Is MAC Contaminating Your Canadian Shower Head? Here’s What You Need To Know

  • Guest Blog
  • 2 years ago

If you haven’t heard of MAC, then you probably don’t have a compromised immune system or any respiratory problems. Nothing feels better than a hot shower to start your day or to soothe your muscles after a long day at work, but that doesn’t mean that it is totally healthy for you. As you wash off the dirt and grime of the day, bacteria can be spraying from your showerhead that may be worse than any bacteria being rinsed away by the hot water. The pathogens that come from your showerhead might be making you sick without you even knowing.


According to a Winnipeg plumber, the bacteria Mycobacterium avium complex, or MAC as professionals call it, is highly similar to the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis. Although not many people have heard of it, it is infecting thousands of people around Canada. The good news is that although it’s similar in nature to the bacteria that causes TB, it is not as dire or as serious. Those who are infected with the MAC virus develop a persistent cough that can be tiring and irritating. But for most, it doesn’t come with the same disastrous consequences as being infected with TB.

For those with a compromised immune system or respiratory problems, however, MAC can be accompanied by fatigue, weight loss, and fever. The most serious version of the MAC virus can affect the liver, brain, and bones. The bacteria, however, is very rarely enough to bring on such severe consequences in healthy people. The biggest problem with the MAC bacteria is that its treatment is a long and difficult process.

MAC has been around forever, but hasn’t really caused much concern for health professionals. Until the end of the last century, it was all but ignored. Due to the growing number of individuals with respiratory diseases and compromised immune systems, however, it is finally catching the attention of public health officials. The growing concern has led Canadian government officials to try to devise a plan to control the spread of MAC in residential waterways.

As it is a highly resilient bacteria, that is proving to be much harder than hoped. The treatments which are known to be effective against MAC, like ultraviolet light and heat, are being used when possible. But the widespread contamination of the bacteria is hard to tackle. Once it makes its way into any plumbing supply line, the risk for exposure is imminent. Even worse, there is no real way to control the contamination and infection of those breathing in the MAC bacteria. If it has made its way into plumbing systems, there appears to be only one solid way to control the bacteria: using another bacteria that doesn’t play well with MAC.

The opposing bacteria, which might save hundreds of thousands of Canadian residents from exposure to the MAC pathogen, is called Methylobacterium. It just might be the perfect tool to limit MAC contamination. Methylobacterium might be the only way that plumbing professionals can target MAC and stop it from growing. Researchers realized that the two bacterias never occupy the same space, which was their signal to use it to fight against MAC.

Researchers have found that if they coat plumbing supply lines with Methylobacterium, then MAC ceases to grow. Methylobacterium works by stopping MAC’s formation on plumbing lines. It’s not that it works by killing the bacteria — it just prevents the MAC bacteria from growing or taking hold. The best news is that Methylobacterium works in a similar nature to probiotics; it doesn’t need to be a live agent to work its magic. So there is no risk to humans when using it.

The new research holds promise for those in Canada with compromised immune system diseases or respiratory weaknesses that can cause MAC to be serious. If it works, then there is the potential that the MAC infection will cease to grow and infect Canadians, which is excellent news for anyone concerned with the side effects of enjoying a wonderful hot shower.