Soil is the origin for the presence of Naegleria fowleri in the thermal recreational waters
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Naegleria fowleri is found in most geothermal baths of Guadeloupe and has been responsible for the death of a 9-year-old boy who swam in one of these baths in 2008. We wanted to determine the origin for the presence of this amoeba in the water. Water samples were taken at the origin of the geothermal sources and at the arrival in the baths. After filtration, cultures were made and the number of Naegleria present was determined using the most probable number method. Soil samples collected in the proximity of the baths were also tested for the presence of thermophilic amoebae. The species identification was obtained by PCR. During three consecutive months, no Naegleria could be found at the origin of any geothermal source tested. In contrast, N. fowleri was isolated at least once in all baths at the arrival of the water, except one. Thermophilic amoebae could be found in each soil sample, especially near the baths located at a lower altitude, but N. fowleri was only isolated near two baths, which were also the baths most often contaminated with this species. So it appears that the contamination of the water with N. fowleri occurs after emerging from the geothermal source when the water runs over the soil. Therefore, it should be possible to reduce the concentration of N. fowleri in the geothermal baths of Guadeloupe to for example less than 1 N. fowleri/10 L by installing a pipeline between the geothermal sources and the baths and by preventing flooding water from entering the baths after rainfall. By taking these measures, we were able to eliminate N. fowleri from a pool located inside a reeducation clinic.
KeywordsNaegleria fowleri Reservoir Soil Prevention
This work was supported by a grant ACIP n°A01-11 from the Institut Pasteur and by a grant FEDER FED-1-1.4 32932 from the European Union. Mirna Moussa was supported by a grant FSE from the European Union and the Guadeloupe Region.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
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