Abstract

Hydrotherapy equipment provides a perfect environment for the formation and growth of microbial biofilms. Biofilms may reduce the microbiological cleanliness of hydrotherapy equipment and harbour opportunistic pathogens and pathogenic bacteria. The aims of this study were to investigate the ability of microorganisms that colonize hydrotherapy equipment to form biofilms, and to assess the influence of temperature and nutrients on the rate of biofilm formation. Surface swab samples were collected from the whirlpool baths, inhalation equipment and submerged surfaces of a brine pool at the spa center in Ciechocinek, Poland. We isolated and identified microorganisms from the swab samples and measured their ability to form biofilms. Biofilm formation was observed at a range of temperatures, in both nutrient-deficient and nutrient-rich environments. We isolated and identified microorganisms which are known to form biofilms on medical devices (e.g. Stenotrophomonas maltophilia). All isolates were classified as opportunistic pathogens, which can cause infections in humans with weakened immunity systems. All isolates showed the ability to form biofilms in the laboratory conditions. The potential for biofilm formation was higher in the presence of added nutrients. In addition, the hydrolytic activity of the biofilm was connected with the presence of nutrients.

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