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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 May;64(5):1822-4.

Comparison of free-living amoebae in hot water systems of hospitals with isolates from moist sanitary areas by identifying genera and determining temperature tolerance.

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Institut für Hygiene und Mikrobiologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany.


Legionella-contaminated hot water systems and moist sanitary areas in six hospitals were sampled for amoebae by following a standardized collection protocol. Genus identifications and temperature tolerance determinations were made. Amoebae identified as Hartmannella vermiformis (65%), Echinamoebae spp. (15%), Saccamoebae spp. (12%), and Vahlkampfia spp. (9%) were detected in 29 of 56 (52%) hot water samples. Twenty-three of 49 (47%) swabs obtained from moist areas were amoeba positive. The following genera were identified: Acanthamoeba (22%), Naegleria (22%), Vahlkampfia (20%), Hartmannella (15%), and Vanella (7%). The temperature tolerance of amoebae from hot water systems was strikingly different from that of amoebae from moist areas. At 44 degrees C on agar, 59% of amoebic isolates sampled from hot water systems showed growth. The corresponding value for isolates from moist areas was only 17%. Six Acanthamoeba isolates from the moist areas were considered potential pathogens. Four Hartmannella and two Saccamoeba isolates from hot water could be cultured at 53 degrees C.

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