This study reports the detection of Acanthamoeba and Naegleria species in 14 swimming pools around Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sampling was carried out at 4 sites (the platforms (P), wall (W), 1 meter from the wall (1) and middle (2)) of each swimming pool. These free living amoebae (FLA) were detected under light and inverted microscopes after being cultured on the surface of non-nutrient agar lawned with Escherichia coli. Acanthamoeba species were detected in higher number of culture plates from all sampling sites of all the swimming pools. While Naegleria, were detected in fewer culture plates at 3 sampling sites (absent at site P) of 8 swimming pools. This suggested that the thick double-walled cysts of Acanthamoeba were more resistant, thus remaining viable in the dry-hot areas of the platforms and in chlorinated water of the swimming pools whereas Naegleria cysts, that are fragile and susceptible to desiccation, preferred watery or moist areas for growth and proliferation. The prevalence of both FLA was highest at site W (76.2%), followed by site 1 (64.7%), lowest at site 2 (19.4%), and could be detected at all 3 sampling levels (top, middle and bottom) of these 3 sites. The surface of site W might act as a bio-film that accumulated all kinds of microbes providing sufficient requirement for the FLA to develop and undergo many rounds of life cycles as well as moving from top to bottom in order to graze food. Other factors such as human activities, the circulating system which was fixed at all swimming pools, blowing wind which might carry the cysts from surroundings and the swimming flagellate stage of Naegleria could also contribute to the distribution of the FLA at these sampling sites. Both FLA showed highest growth (80.4%) at room temperature (25-28 ºC) and lesser (70.0%) at 37 ºC which might be due to the overgrowth of other microbes (E. coli, fungi, algae, etc). While at 44 ºC, only Acanthamoeba species could survive thus showing that our swimming pools are free from potentially pathogenic Naegleria species. However, further study is needed in order to confirm the virulence levels of these amoebae isolates.
Acanthamoeba sp. is a free-living amoeba known to cause chronic central nervous system infection or eye infection in humans. Many cases remain undetected for want of a good detection system. We report for the first time a rapid staining method to facilitate the identification of Acanthamoeba sp. using the modified Field's staining technique. A. castellanii, which was used in the present experiment, is maintained in our laboratory in mycological peptone medium (Gibco). The cultures were pooled together and smears were made on glass slides for staining purposes. Different types of stains such as Field's stain, modified Field's stain, Wright's stain, Giemsa stain, Ziehl-Neelsen stain, and trichrome stain were used to determine the best stain for the identification of this amoeba. The concentration of various stains and the duration of staining were varied to provide the best color and contrast for each stain. Acanthamoeba was also obtained from the brain of experimentally infected mice and was stained with various stains as mentioned above to determine the best stain for use in identifying the presence of this parasite in experimentally infected animals. The modified Field's stain gives a very good color contrast as compared with other stains. Furthermore, it takes only 20 s to be carried out using the least number of reagents, making it suitable for both laboratory and field use.
During a study on the quality of the indoor environment, Acanthamoeba spp. were detected in 20 out of 87 dust samples collected from air-conditioners installed in a four-story campus building located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Twenty-one cloned Acanthamoeba isolates designated as IMU1 to IMU21 were established from the positive primary cultures. Five species were identified from the 16 isolates according to the morphological criteria of Pussard and Pons; i.e. A. castellanii, A. culbertsoni, A. griffini, A. hatchetti and A. polyphaga. Species identities for the remaining five isolates (IMU4, IMU5, IMU15, IMU20 and IMU21), however, could not be determined morphologically. At genotypic characterization, these isolates were placed into T3 (IMU14); T5 (IMU16 and IMU17) and T4 (all the remaining isolates). To predict the potential pathogenicity of these Acanthamoeba isolates, thermo- and osmotolerance tests were employed; many isolates were predicted as potential human pathogens based on the outcome of these tests. This is the first time potentially pathogenic Acanthamoeba have been isolated from air-conditioners in Malaysia.