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Environmental Pollution
Vol. 234, 2018, Pages: 71-78

Sulfadiazine/ciprofloxacin promote opportunistic pathogens occurrence in bulk water of drinking water distribution systems?

Yunhao Zheng, Haoxuan Chen, Maosheng Yao, Xiaoguang Li

State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.


It is generally believed that influenza outbreak is associated with breath-borne transmission of viruses, however relevant evidence is little for that of respiratory bacterial infections. On another front, point-of-care infection diagnostic methods at the bedside are significantly lacking. Here, we used a newly developed protocol of integrating an exhaled breath condensate (EBC) collection device (PKU BioScreen) and Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) to investigate what bacterial pathogens can be directly exhaled out from humans. Exhaled breath condensates were collected from human subjects with respiratory infection symptoms at Peking University 3rd hospital using the BioScreen. The screened bacterial pathogens included Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin-resistant Stphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Haemophilus influenzae, Legionella pneumophila, Mycoplasma Pneumonia, Chlamydia pneumonia, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The results were further compared and validated using throat swabs from the same patients by a PCR method.

Here, human bacterial pathogens such as H. influenzaeP. aeruginosaE. coli, S. aureusand MRSA were detected in exhaled breath using the developed protocol that integrates the EBC collection and LAMP. For the patients recruited from the hospital, seven types of pathogens were detected from 36.5% of them, and for the remaining subjects none of those screened bacterial pathogens was detected. Importantly, some super resistant bacteria such as MRSA were detected from the exhaled breath, suggesting that breathing might be also an important bacterial transmission route. Results from throat swabs showed that 36.2% of the subjects were found to be infected with H. influenzaeP. aeruginosaE. coli, S. maltophiliaS. aureus and MRSA. For the EBC samples, 33.3% were found to be infected with MRSA, E. coli and P. aeruginosa. Depending on the initial pathogen load in the sample, the entire protocol (EBC-LAMP) only takes 20–60 min to complete for a respiratory infection diagnosis. For different detection methods and pathogens, the agreements between the EBC and throat swabs from the same patients were found to range from 35% to 65%. Here, we have detected several bacterial pathogens including MRSA from exhaled breath, and the developed protocol could be very useful for the bedside pathogen screening particularly in remote areas where resources are significantly limited or prohibited.

Keywords: Airborne transmission, Pathogens, Exhaled breath condensate, Throat swabs, LAMP.

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