Free-living amoebae (FLA) are ubiquitous protozoa that do not require a host organism for survival. They are found in natural environments such as water or soil, and man-made environments including tap water or swimming pools, where they may interact with other micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses. FLA can harbour micro-organisms including those found in hospital water systems, offering them protection against hostile conditions, providing a vehicle of dissemination, and enabling them to prepare for subsequent survival in macrophages. The interaction between Legionella pneumophila and FLA has been studied extensively; subsequent investigations have shown that FLA may serve as a reservoir for other bacteria including mycobacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, or even fungi and viruses. Amoebae found in hospital water systems can serve as a reservoir of potential pathogens and thus be indirectly related to healthcare-associated infections.
Keywords: Free-living amoebae; Healthcare-associated infections; Interactions; Micro-organisms; Water.
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