Helicobacter pylori as a zoonotic infection: the detection of H. pylori antigens in the milk and faeces of cows

Hajieh Ghasemian Safaei, Ebrahim Rahimi, Ashkan Zandi, Alireza Rashidipour


  • BACKGROUND: The prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection, which may increase the risk of gastritis, peptic ulcers, and cancer, has increased worldwide. This number is estimated to be around 70–90% in developing countries and
    25–50% in developed countries. It is possible that the bacterium can be transmitted via food and water as well as zoonotically and iatrogenically. Because of high prevalence of this infection in Iran, the aim of this study is to examine whether H. pylori infection might be transmitted from cow's milk and faeces.
  • METHODS: The existence of the H. pylori antibody and antigen was investigated in samples of serum, milk, and faeces from 92 lactating Holstein cows in Shahrekord, Iran. The H. pylori antigen and antibody were detected using ELISA and were confirmed by PCR.
  • RESULTS: It was found that out of 92 serum specimens, 25 (27%) of the cows were positive for the H. pylori antibody and 67 specimens were negative. From these 25 seropositive cows, 10 (40%) faeces samples and four (16%) milk samples were antigen positive for H. pylori. Four of the antigen-positive milk specimens were also antigen positive for faeces. The existence of the UreC gene was also confirmed in positive samples of milk and faeces.
  • CONCLUSIONS: There is a possibility that cow's milk is a transmission mode in H. pylori infection and faecal contamination and inappropriate management processes could transfer H. pylori to humans. The awareness of the H. pylori epidemiology and its method of distribution are necessary for public health measures and controlling the spread of this bacterium. Further investigation with a greater sample number is necessary to verify the ability of H. pylori transmission via milk consumption.
  • KEYWORDS: Helicobacter pylori, Milk, Faeces, Zoonotic.


Helicobacter pylori, milk, faeces, zoonotic

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