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Non-touch fittings and X-infection


Non-touch water taps (NTWTs) are increasingly being installed in hospitals to reduce water consumption and supposedly prevent cross-infection. This study examined the bacteriological water quality of NTWTs in an Austrian hospital, which are activated by an infrared sensor.

Significant findings

Contamination with Pseudomonas occurred in 74% NTWTs without temperature selection, 7% NTWTs with temperature selection, and 0% of conventional taps. Contamination with Legionella occurred in 100% NTWTs and 33% conventional taps. However there were no clinical cases of Legionella or Pseudomonas reported over this time frame. Subsequent analysis of water from the central pipe system and NTWT's fitting identified the technical equipment of the NTWTs as the source of contamination.


The technical components of NTWTs promote contamination since water rests in a column prior to the outlet at 350C and both water flow and pressure are low when the infrared sensor is activated. Although techniques to reduce cross-infection are to be applauded, further evaluation of the technical equipment of NTWTs is required to ensure that these systems do not become the breeding ground for bacteria.


Thirty-eight NTWTs were installed: 23 without temperature selection, 15 with temperature selection. These were compared to 10 conventional taps. Bacteriological screening for organisms, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Legionella species, was performed.

Additional information


  1. Halabi M, Wiesholzer-Pitt M, Schober J, Mittermayer H: Non-touch fittings in hospitals: a possible source of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Legionellaspp. J Hosp Infect. 2001, 49: 117-121.

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Venn, R. Non-touch fittings and X-infection. Crit Care 5, 73600 (2001).

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  • Legionella
  • non-touch fittings
  • noscomial infection
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa