Helicobacter pylori

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Helicobacter pylori
Helicobacter pylori

What is Helicobacter pylori?

Helicobacter pylori is a microaerophilic, rod-shaped, gram-negative bacterium that experts estimate is present in the stomach of every second person. Research in recent years has shown that Helicobacter pylori has accompanied humans since the emergence of the Homo sapiens species. In most cases, it does not cause any health problems. However, if it nests in the gastric mucosa, it can lead to permanent gastritis, which must be treated with antibiotics. However, many sufferers do not show any symptoms despite the diagnosis of Helicobacter gastritis. Experts currently assume that H. pylori colonisation plays a decisive role in a large proportion of gastric ulcers and in the majority of duodenal ulcers.

How is Helicobacter pylori transmitted?

Helicobacter pylori is transmitted from person to person by saliva or indirect contact with contaminated persons or objects. The infection is usually transmitted in childhood through close contact with the mother. In adulthood, the risk of infection is very low. Experts suspect that this could be linked to an adult’s mature immune system.

What are symptoms of the disease?

Because the bacteria increase the formation of gastric acid, the Helicobacter infection can lead to irritation of the mucous membrane. Pain in the upper abdomen, feeling of fullness, frequent burping, loss of appetite, nausea and bad breath can be the result. One to two of ten people with inflammation of the mucous membrane caused by Helicobacter develop an ulcer of the duodenum. This can lead to bleeding and even to a stomach or intestinal rupture. Stomach cancer can also be the result of excessive colonisation of the bacteria in the human body. However, such tumours are very rare. There are three different tests to detect Helicobacter colonisation in the body. The bacteria are visible in a stool or even breath test. In the case of prolonged symptoms, a gastroscopy with a biopsy and subsequent examination of the tissue by the attending physician can be useful to exclude serious diseases such as gastric cancer.

Significance for infections in hospitals and in the outpatient sector

Because Helicobacter pylori infections can be treated with medication, the chances of recovery are good. The treatment consists of antibiotics and acid-secretion inhibitors. Since Helicobacter pylori bacteria are increasingly developing resistance to antibiotics, doctors recommend checking whether the pathogen can still be found in the body after the drugs have been taken. If the treatment was not successful, other active ingredients are administered in combination until the bacterium can no longer be detected.

Survival time of pathogens on inanimate surfaces

Less than 90 minutes

Disinfectant effectiveness for prevention

The required spectrum of activity against Helicobacter pylori is: bactericidal

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