Free-living amoebae have been detected in a large number of man-made water systems, including drinking water distribution systems. Some of these amoebae can host amoebae-resisting bacteria, and thus act potentially as reservoirs and vehicles for a number of pathogens. The objectives of this study were to characterize the amoebae and amoebae-resisting bacteria present in different raw waters used for drinking water production, and to assess the efficiency of different treatments applied for drinking water production in removing or inactivating these amoebae. The preliminary results of this study confirm the presence of amoebae and amoebae-resisting bacteria in raw waters used for drinking water production. Due to their capacity to encyst, most of these amoebae are extremely resistant to disinfection processes. In these conditions, preventing the dissemination of these micro-organisms through drinking water will mainly require their physical removal by clarification and filtration processes. The particular hazard that amoebae-resisting bacteria represent in drinking water production should be taken into account in any risk assessment conducted in the framework of a water safety plan, and control strategies based on physical removal rather than disinfection should be adopted where necessary.

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