A survey was conducted to determine the presence of free-living amoebae (FLA), especially Acanthamoeba and Naegleria, in river recreation areas in Tehran Province, Iran. All rivers surveyed were associated with human activity, and two were also a source of municipal tap water. Fifty-five water samples from 10 major rivers were screened for FLA and identified by morphological characters, PCR amplification targeting specific genes for Acanthamoeba (DF3 region of Rns gene) and other FLA (ITS PCR), and homology analysis. The percentage of positive FLA isolates was 27.3%, of which 80% were Acanthamoeba, assigned to the T4 and T15 genotype, and 20% were Naegleria. Isolation of Acanthamoeba T4 genotype (91.7%) from recreation areas could be a health threat and a sanitary risk associated with human activity where young people and tourists congregate in summer. Posting of warning signs and education of high-risk individuals are important for disease prevention. To the best of our knowledge this is the first report of genotype T15 (clustered with A. jacobsi) identified in Iran and the first report of the distribution of FLA such as Naegleria (N. pagei, N. clarki and N. fultoni) in recreation areas in rivers of Tehran Province using molecular methods.

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