British Lung Foundation

Is pseudomonas catching?

Is pseudomonas contagious or infectious to normal healthy people? I ask because I have bronchiectasis and it is colonised in me. I have a friend who refuses to give me even a cheek kiss greeting because she is obviously afraid of catching something. She used to be a hospital secretary and I'm thinking perhaps she knows something I don't!

She is a bit OTT re the hand gel too and that's probably her background. Just asking.....

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Hi Claudine,

I'm so glad that you asked this question. I discovered in my last hospitalisation that many hospital staff, even nurses have the idea that we are infectious to them. This is because pseudomonas is usually an infection found on the skin in elderly or very immune compromised patients. This is very different to the colonisation in our lungs.

I was so angry at the attitude of some of the staff to ne that I asked my consultant. She said definitely NO, We are not infectious to other people. In fact, they are far more dangerous to us because the viruses they pass on to us can result in an exacerbation.

There has been some studies in the US where cystic fibrosis patients, confined in a small unit have passed different steains of pseudomonas to each other because of the nature of their condition. They did not infect anyone else.

Non cf bronchiectasis is very different and we are not onfectious to each other or the population at large. I have had it for 63 years and have never infected my family or anyone else. They have brought plenty of unwanted bugs to me though.

Please do your best to squash this ignorance wherever you find it. It is wrong and serves to stigmatise and isolate us.

I hope that helped.

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Thank you so much - that's what I always thought but this friend made me wonder.

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You definately helped me. Thank you! My pulmonologist said it wasn't but like with so many other questions you get so many different answers. I refused to even kiss my grandkids on the top of the head for fear of passing something on to them. I'm scheduled for a long plane ride next week and have gotten a mask for the trip. Even before any of this it always bothered me when people would cough all over the place without covering their mouths. I hope the mask idea isn't to extreme, but in an enclosed space like that I'm getting a little nervous. Thanks again.

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I have a friend with asthma who lives in Paris but her mother lives in UK. She has stopped flying over now, even with a mask, because of the number of times she's ended up with bronchitis. She drives the whole way, via the tunnel. I was lucky this year when I flew to Scotland - fine going up but picked something up coming home (there were kids on the flight - bug factories!). Other people's infections can seriously restrict our lives, especially at this time of the year.

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I felt rather rebuffed I must admit. She's the only friend who has reacted that way and because she is also OTT with the hand gel it's all part of her paranoia I think. Thanks

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Hello Claudine, time for you to break out the hand gel and inform your 'friend' that she is more dagerous to you. Make a big show of standing well back from her - especially when she coughs. :-)

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Yes, I'm managing to keep her as a friend - only see her once a week as part of a group. She must now be realising that in fact I am no danger to her. She used to work in the NHS and I think she is a bit OCD about hand gel etc. When she goes out with her husband I have seen her get it out of her handbag and hand it to him too! All my other friends get a goodbye kiss but not her!

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Absolutely right Hanne. I wouldn't call that a friend!

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Hi Claudine

I have bronchietatasis, asthma and now copd. I have always worked worked on the principle that if I am with the grandchildren, older people (my dad's 94 now) or anybody I know who has a compromised immune to not to kiss them other than the top of their heads. As I look after my grandkids 3 days a week I also use hand gel frequently when food prepping etc.

This should be for you as well, no kissing peeps if they have colds or illnesses, no sharing cups and food, lots of hand gel while you are out and about , I learnt this the hard way when i picked the e coli bug in my lungs and was ill very ill for a long time.

Sorry if this sounds miserable way to have to live but it goes someway to protect both you and yours.

Sue

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Dear bayleyray

Please read my response to Claudine above. There is no need for you not to kiss anybody unless THEY have something that they can pass to you.xx

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Hi Stillstanding,

I stopped kissing people or sharing crockery, silverware or food about four years ago and being very careful around littlies and oldies on the advice of my consultant as swabs taken from my mouth and throat had the same bacteria infections that were in my lungs. So now I just take extra care as most of the time my mucus is green to errrch. It's also a bit of a protection for me. All I can say is my lungs must be very sociable not only do they make room for any bacteria around I can never be sure if they are trying to get the rest of the world to join me.

Sue

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Everybody carries bacteria in their mouths and lungs. If you were going to pass yours to them you would have done it long before now. Please don't think of yourself or the rest of us as pariahs. It is very hurtful as well as wrong.

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Most bactriea infection are in urinals of the lung Coconed in mucus antibodes WOULD be nice if lived germ free life but sadly you need exposure to germs to retrain your immune systerm.

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Hi Claudine, I was asked on a routine clinic visit about a year ago if I'd help with some research looking into whether non cf adults with pseudomonas can transfer it/ give it to other patients with bronchiectasis. The feeling was not, but I don't know the results.

Not that helpful then!

Sue x

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You'd think, as a matter of courtesy, that they would inform you of the results of their research wouldn't you? I think I'm armed with sufficient info now anyway, thanks.

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Research takes years last results i read about from when i took part was 3 years in waiting good job i did not hold my breath

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Still Standing gave a brilliant response, which is what I was told. But I do try to avoid kissing & hugging other people as much as possible, my close family all know why ( they know I pick up things easily ) its for my safety though not theirs :) :) I do however not go in to visit people in Intensive care wards unless they are immediate family ..'just in case'

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Oh yes, I am particularly nervous about the winter months. I would not use public transport, or go to the theatre or cinema in winter. Feel quite glad I don't have grandchildren - they're a health hazard! My friends and family know to stay away from me in they have any cold or cough too. It's a matter of being sensible without it restricting your life too much. As you say, hospitals are another hazard! So far, I haven't needed to bother the NHS apart from the GP surgery when I always sit out in Reception (more fresh air), not in the waiting room. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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My mum has bronchiectasis and psuedomonas can my children catch it. I am recovering from pneumonia am I at risk?

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Thanks Hannah

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Hello Claudine, Whenever I go to hospital now, they isolate me. It’s because, I am vulnerable to other people’s bugs, as I have a low immune system with a low white blood cells count. In fact, he consultant prefers to treat me at home.

Stillstanding63 has replied rightly, it’s the others who are more dangerous to us!

I suppose hospital staff are encouraged to put alcohol on their hands. I find the cleaners even more dangerous, as they often wipe the top of the tables with the same cloth, spreading bugs around!

Hospitals are where the germs live rather well! Hence all this MRSA tests when you go in.

My consultant told me that pseudomonas adopts a dormant form, a sort of spores that gets activated when it senses our weakness. It counts the number of our white blood cells, I was told, and attack us and multiply quickly. Fortunately, the number of our white blood cells is always bigger, so is the size of our white blood cells. Cyproxine is very efficient. If those who don’t have bronchiectasis catch the bug, cypro would destroy the bugs very quickly. But indeed, if they have a healthy immune system and healthy lungs, they are much less likely to catch this. We are the vulnerable ones, because with bronchiectasis, mucus stagnates in the lungs and off the right medium for bugs to develop in mucus.

I had a CD by Bernie Siegel who said on his CD to imagine our big white blood cells confronting the small pseudomonas. We have powerful cells to combat the enemy.

Hope you get better soon, as pseudomonas is tenacious, but NOT invulnerable.

Mic

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I avoid hospitals too Mic, but if inevitable I take antiseptic wipes and alcohol gel to wipe the table & bedside cabinet. I've picked up enough things in hospital to make me very, very cautious. A particular irritation is, when they bring clean glasses round, they often carry several at a time, touching the inside with their fingers, instead of holding them by the base. That really annoys me, a total lack of basic infection control!

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I like your idea of taking your own antiseptic wipes, very useful.

Keep taking care of yourself, we are never too cautious!

Mic

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We're all cut from the same cloth here. I don't touch anything in hospital, especially in the bathroom. I push the door open and shut with my hip or my elbow, use paper towels to turn on the taps, light switches etc. I don't bring my own wipes but use copious amounts of the alcohol hand cleanser on paper towels, to rub down, the tray, locker top etc. A bit tedious sometimes but I've never picked up any extra infections in hospital, so probably worth it.

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I refused to go to the toilet when i was in hospital BJ - in fact they were quite relieved as it would have been harder to take me in the state i was in at the time. Took organic baby wipes and used them to wash with so never went near the communal toilet/wash areas. I do all that stuff, elbows etc and it pays off.

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If Pseudomonas was infectious all of those who have it including me would be banned from doing pulmonary rehabilitation etc

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