Helicobacter pylori Bacteria fact file
The most common chronic bacterial infection in humans, thought to affect 50 per cent of the world’s population, with more cases in developing world. Infection rates in Ireland are about 20 per cent.
An Irish study found that H.pylori infection is acquired at a very young age – typically less than 5 years – and new infection is rare in older children and adults.
Infections are related to poor socioeconomic conditions in childhood, poor hygiene and overcrowding in the home, sharing a bed and having infected parents.
Mode of transmission is unclear, but probably person-to-person. Parental transmission has been reported. For example, mothers could transmit infection through mouth secretions using common spoons or tasting child’s food.
The urea breath test (UBT) is accurate, easy to perform and is the recommended non-invasive test for diagnosis.
Although infection can be treated with antibiotics, patient non-compliance and antibiotic resistance are the main reasons for treatment failure. There is no vaccine available.