Free living amoebae (FLA) are amphizoic protozoa that are ubiquitous in nature. Infection with FLA may result in neurological, ocular and skin infections. Exposure to Acanthamoeba occurs frequently through water contact and knowledge of the presence of the organisms in water sources is important in understanding transmission dynamics. The distribution of Acanthamoeba was studied in recreational and domestic water samples collected from across Jamaica. Morphological assessment and polymerase chain reaction revealed Acanthamoeba spp. isolates in 50.6% (42/83) and 17.3% (14/81) of recreational and domestic water, respectively. Sequencing of the DF3 region of the 18S rDNA resulted in the identification of genotypes T3, T4, T5, T10 and T11 corresponding to Acanthamoeba spp: A. griffini, A. triangularis, A. lenticulata, A. culbertsoni and A. hatchetti. Moreover, T4 was the most frequently isolated genotype in both recreational and domestic water. Thermotolerance and osmotolerance assays indicated that most isolates were potentially pathogenic. This is the first report of T3 and T10 genotypes in the Caribbean and the first report of these Acanthamoeba spp. in Jamaican waters. The study shows that there is potential risk of infection to contact wearers who practise poor lens care. Further, Acanthamoeba should be considered as a cause of neurological infections in Jamaica.
- Acanthamoeba spp.
- domestic water
- mineral springs
- recreational water
- First received 30 August 2014.
- Accepted in revised form 3 March 2015.
- © IWA Publishing 2015