The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Helicobacter Pylori

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that lives in human gastric mucosa. The bacteria produce an enzyme that neutralizes the stomach’s digestive acids, allowing the bacteria to live in harsh, acidic conditions. About half of the human population has an H. pylori infection, making it one of the world’s most common bacterial infections. The exact origins and transmission of H. pylori are unknown but it is most likely transmitted through contact with infected saliva or feces. It may also be spread through contaminated food or water. Most often the infection is acquired during childhood.

Symptoms
Most H. pylori infections do not produce symptoms. However, because the bacteria affect the gastrointestinal tract and digestive system, some infections can lead to abdominal pains, vomiting, nausea, bloating, and loss of appetite. H. pylori infection is the major cause of peptic ulcer disease, and it also increases the risk of gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) and duodenal ulcers. Symptoms of these diseases are similar to those already mentioned and also can include bloody or black vomit and stools.

Treatment
Treatment of H. pylori usually involves a combination of antibiotics over a period of 10 to 14 days. Sometimes supplemental medicines that reduce stomach acids are used to reduce symptoms and increase the effectiveness of antibiotics.

Prevention
The mode of H. pylori transmission is unknown; therefore, no specific and proven ways of preventing infection can be recommended. No vaccine is available and there are no recommended drugs for preventing infection. It is advised that you follow the normal precautions for preventing many infectious diseases—washing your hands with soap frequently throughout the day, drinking clean water, and eating food that has been properly prepared and cooked.

Sources:
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/chapter-5/helicobacter-pylori.aspx
http://www.who.int/immunization/topics/helicobacter_pylori/en/
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/h-pylori/DS00958

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: The only way public health agencies can deal with infectious disease is to have good surveillance in place, wait for an outbreak to happen in a human population, and then rush to contain it.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By identifying pathogens in the animals where they naturally live and monitoring those organisms as they move from animals into people, it may be possible to prevent deadly new infections of animal origin from entering and racing through human populations.

  • Correct!

    By identifying pathogens in the animals where they naturally live and monitoring those organisms as they move from animals into people, it may be possible to prevent deadly new infections of animal origin from entering and racing through human populations.

Infectious Disease Defined

Sterilization

The process of destroying all forms of life, including infectious agents, from a surface, fluid, or biological medium with the use of heat, chemicals, irradiation, high pressure, filtration, or some combination of these methods.

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