, Volume 104, Issue 5, pp 969-978
Date: 29 Nov 2008

Survey for the presence of Naegleria fowleri Amebae in lake water used to cool reactors at a nuclear power generating plant

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Water from Lake Anna in Virginia, a lake that is used to cool reactors at a nuclear power plant and for recreational activities, was assessed for the presence of Naegleria fowleri, an ameba that causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). This survey was undertaken because it has been reported that thermally enriched water fosters the propagation of N. fowleri and, hence, increases the risk of infection to humans. Of 16 sites sampled during the summer of 2007, nine were found to be positive for N. fowleri by a nested polymerase chain reaction assay. However, total ameba counts, inclusive of N. fowleri, never exceeded 12/50 mL of lake water at any site. No correlation was obtained between the conductivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH of water and presence of N. fowleri. To date, cases of PAM have not been reported from this thermally enriched lake. It is postulated that predation by other protozoa and invertebrates, disturbance of the water surface from recreational boating activities, or the presence of bacterial or fungal toxins, maintain the number N. fowleri at a low level in Lake Anna.