Detection of Opportunistic Parasites in Public Parks in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid, Spain).




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title


XX Spanish Congress of Parasitology (SOCEPA).



Peer reviewed



Opportunistic parasites such as free living Amoebae (FLA) and microsporidia can cause serious diseases in cases of immunosuppression or a weak immune system, for example in infants and the elderly. FLA can infect the central nervous system, eye or skin depending on the species. FLA do not require a host to complete their life cycle, thus they are commonly isolated from water or soil. Microsporidia are intracellular parasites that can cause intestinal and other infections in all types of animal. Due to their zoonotic potential, they can infect all animal phyla, so that humans can be easily exposed to them in the environment. Because of this, the aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of FLA and Microsporidia in urban parks in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) in soil, water and fecal samples. Five parks were selected and 28 dust samples (soil and children’s sandpit), 4 water samples (ornamental fountains and drinkable water) and 5 mammal feces were collected in total. FLA was analyzed in soil and water samples by a triplex real time PCR with 3 TaqMan® probes for Acanthamoeba, Balamuthia mandrillaris and Naegleria fowleri. No positive results were found. On the other hand, microsporidia were detected in all types of sample using a SYBR Green real time PCR that allows distinction of phylum microsporidia, reaching to species level in the case of Encephalitazoon bieneusi, Enterocytozoon hellen/ intestinalis and E. cuniculi. All fecal samples were positive for E. hellen/ intestinalis. Only one water sample was positive for phylum microsporidia but negative for the above species. In the dust samples, 15 were positive for at least 1 type of microsporidia; in total 2 samples were positive for E. cuniculi, 2 for E. bieneusi, 7 for E. hellen/ intestinalis and 6 for undetermined species. At the sight of the results we can confirm that fecal contamination in urban parks can be a potential health risk through fecal oral transmission, as microsporidia, have been found in a large number of samples. Conversely, urban park soils do not seem to present a source of FLA infection in the studied area.



Public parks, Pathogens, Microsporidia


Martinez-Fernandez C., Magnet A., Izquierdo F., Gomes TS., Vaccaro L., Ollero D., Peña-Fernández A., Fenoy S., del Águila C. (2017) Detection of Opportunistic Parasites in Public Parks in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid, Spain). XX Spanish Congress of Parasitology (SOCEPA). Santa Cruz de Tenerife, July 2017.


Research Institute

Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)