Your Cat Can Give You Ulcers


LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND (MAY 9, 1998) -- Your cat can literally give you ulcers or, at least, a type of bacteria that causes ulcers.

A report in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology tells the story of a 38-year-old dentist who had stomach complaints. Ten ulcers were seen in his stomach using a fiber-optic scope (an endoscope).

The dentist was found to be infected with a bacteria, Helicobacter heilmannii, that is common in animals, but rare in humans. An identical strain of the bacteria was found in his cat, the apparent source of the dentist's infection.

A similar bacteria, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is quite common in people. It plays a key role in causing gastric ulcers and is thought to contribute to gastric cancer.

H. heilmannii infects most cats, dogs and pigs and, in them, causes stomach inflammation (gastritis). H. heilmannii is not usually transmitted from animals to people. But people who have been infected by H. heilmannii are known to have developed gastric ulcers, just as the dentist did.

Fortunately, treatment with antibiotics can cure both H. heilmannii and H. pylori infections.

The report of the 38-year-old dentist and his cat was first-authored by Dr. Christine Dieterich of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne.and published, as mentionned, in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology (volume 36, pages 1366-1370, 1998).

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