H. pylori (Helicobacter Pylori ) Infection

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Digestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Is H. pylori contagious?

Yes, H. pylori is contagious. However, sometimes there is a grey area between the terms contagious and colonized. Contagious usually implies that a disease-causing agent is transferred from person to person, while colonization usually implies an agent that simply populating an organ but does not cause disease, even when transferred from person to person. The grey area occurs when many people have the agent that causes disease in some of them, but not in many others. Some microbiologists consider such organisms as adapting to their human hosts by slowly changing from infecting humans to colonizing them. Although this is a speculation, it seems to fit the ongoing situation with H. pylori. However, others think the bacteria become infecting agents when their genes and the surrounding environment trigger H. pylori to produce and release enough toxic chemicals to cause the GI tract to become inflamed.

Reviewed on 6/28/2016
References
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Cancer.gov. Helicobacter pylori and Cancer. Reviewed Sep 5, 2013
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Chey, W. et al. "American College Gastroenterology Guideline on the management of Helicobacter pylori Infection." Amer. J. Gastro, 102:1808-1825, 2007.
<http://s3.gi.org/physicians/guidelines/ManagementofHpylori.pdf>

FDA. FDA approves first Helicobacter pylori breath test for children. Feb 24, 2014
<http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm293278.htm>

Santacroce, L. "Helicobacter Pylori Infection." Medscape. Sep 11, 2014.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/176938-overview>

Crowe, S. MD., et al. "Patient information: Helicobacter pylori infection and treatment (Beyond the Basics)." UpToDate. Oct 08, 2015.
<http://www.uptodate.com/contents/helicobacter-pylori-infection-and-treatment-beyond-the-basics>

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