Abstract

Acanthamoeba is a free-living protozoan that can be found in natural and artificial environments such as hot tubs, surface water and springs and can cause severe diseases including amoebic keratitis and granulomatous amoebic encephalitis. The present study was conducted owing to the lack of research regarding genotypes of Acanthamoeba in hot springs of Mazandaran province in northern Iran. Twenty-four water samples were collected from all hot springs in Mazandaran province. After filtration through nitrocellulose membrane, samples were cultured on non-nutrient agar medium enriched with TYIS-33. The cultures were microscopically examined for the presence of Acanthamoeba. Positive cultures were analysed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and genotypes were determined by targeting the 18 S rRNA gene. The pathogenic potential of all positive isolates was identified using thermotolerance and osmotolerance tests. Eleven (47.8%) samples were positive for Acanthamoeba. Based on sequencing analysis, 100% of isolates belonged to the T4 genotype. Thermo- and osmo-tolerance tests showed that four (36.3%) Acanthamoeba strains were highly pathogenic. According to our research, the occurrence of Acanthamoeba in recreational hot springs could be a hazard for high risk persons. Posting warning signs and regular monitoring of these waters by health planners may therefore be useful for decreasing Acanthamoeba spp. infections.

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