The National Academies

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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Helicobacter Pylori

Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, are bacteria that live 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. While the exact origins and transmission of H. pylori are unknown, 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 pain, 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 can also 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
There are no specific, proven ways of preventing infection. No vaccine is available, and there are no recommended drugs for preventing infection. It is advised that people follow the normal precautions for preventing many infectious diseases—handwashing 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
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2172395-overview

Explore Other Topics

What do you know about infectious disease?

Which of the following is needed to help improve the public health situation in developing countries?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

  • Correct!

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

Infectious Disease Defined

RNA

Short for ribonucleic acid, RNA is a molecule with long strands of nucleic acids containing a nitrogenous base, a ribose sugar, and a phosphate. RNA is responsible for controlling a number of chemical activities, including protein synthesis, within cells.

View our full glossary