AuthorSifuentes, Laura Yvette
AdvisorGerba, Charles P.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe amoebae Naegleria fowleri, Acanthamoeba spp., and Balamuthia mandrillaris are free-living amoebae found in both water and soil. They are opportunistic pathogens in humans. Acanthamoeba is the most common cause of illness, usually infecting the eyes and sometimes causing a sight-threatening keratitis. Acanthamoeba spp. and B. mandrillaris can cause granulomatous amoebic encephalitis, in addition to infections of the lungs and skin. N. fowleri causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis . There is little known regarding the ecology and occurrence of these organisms. A total of 36 high-use recreational surface waters in Arizona were surveyed over a period of two years to assess the occurrence of N. fowleri and seasonal and environmental factors. Overall, 9.3% of the warm weather samples collected were positive for N. fowleri, whereas 16.3% of the samples were positive during cold weather. Although the presence of N. fowleri could not be significantly correlated with physical and chemical parameters such as temperature, pH, turbidity, conductivity, and the presence of heterotrophic bacteria, total coliforms, and Escherichia coli, a weak correlation (0.52) with live amoebic activity was observed. Five lakes to the north and northeast of Phoenix tested positive for the N. fowleri on more than one occasion over multiple seasons. Finished drinking water samples (n= 785) from a municipal potable distribution system were evaluated for the presence of N. fowleri, B. mandrillaris and Acanthamoeba spp. from 18 different regions during three different sampling periods. Physical and chemical parameters were also evaluated but provided no significant correlations with the occurrence of amoebae or indicator organisms. A total of 138 samples (17.9%) were positive for viable amoebae in distribution water with more than an adequate chlorine residual (average of 0.86 mg/L). Microorganisms that are typically used to monitor microbial water quality such as coliforms and E. coli would likely not be found under these circumstances. Clusters with three or more samples testing positive for viable amoebae per region were observed during all three periods. Viable amoebae may not only provide a better assessment of the microbial quality of water, but such clustering could reveal areas with potential water quality issues within the distribution system.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Soil, Water and Environmental Science