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Environ Res. 1989 Dec;50(2):289-95.

Pathogenic amoebae in natural thermal waters of three resorts of Hidalgo, Mexico.

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Unit of Interdisciplinary Research on Health and Education Sciences (UIICSE), ENEP-Iztacala, México.


In a search for free-living amoebae, seven water samples from three thermal water bathing resorts in Tecozautla, Hidalgo, were analyzed during December 1984. The samples were concentrated by filtration and centrifugation, and inoculated later on monoxenic and axenic media. The identification of the isolates was performed by morphology and isoelectric focusing of isoenzymes and total proteins. Thirty-three strains of free-living amoebae belonging to the genera Naegleria, Acanthamoeba, and Willaertia were isolated. Twenty of these strains belonged to the Naegleria genus, 16 of them were classified as Naegleria spp., and 2 were classified as Naegleria lovaniensis. Noteworthy was the finding of two pathogenic strains of the species Naegleria australiensis. N. australiensis and N. lovaniensis may be considered good indicator organisms, since they live in the same environmental conditions as N. fowleri, the agent of primary amoebic encephalitis (PAM). On the other hand, amoebae other than Naegleria were isolated and identified as Acathamoeba castellanii (two strains), and Acanthamoeba lugdunensis (one strain), which proved to be pathogenic when tested in mice. Nine more pathogenic strains of the genus Acanthamoeba spp. were isolated together with one strain of Willaertia magna, a thermophilic nonpathogenic amoeba. The chlorination and periodical surveillance of water resorts like the one studied is recommended, in order to prevent the appearance of more cases of PAM or other human diseases associated with pathogenic Acanthamoeba spp.

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