Naegleria fowleri, a free-living amoeba, is the causative agent of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a fatal human disease of the central nervous system often contracted after swimming in fresh water. Identifying sites contaminated by N. fowleri is important in order to prevent the disease. An Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA) has been developed for the specific identification of N. fowleri in primary cultures of environmental water samples. Of 939 samples isolated from artificially heated river water and screened by ELISA, 283 were positive. These results were subsequently confirmed by isoelectric focusing, the established reference method. A sensitivity of 97.4% and a specificity of 97% were obtained. These results indicate that this ELISA method is reliable and can be considered as a powerful tool for the detection of N. fowleri in environmental water samples.
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Vol. 50 • No. 2