Helicobacter pylori is a type of germ, or bacteria, that survives inside the stomach. While most people have this germ, a portion of those infected will experience inflammation of the stomach lining, ulcers and other issues as a result of being infected. Most germs that find their way into the stomach cannot survive due to the high acidity levels required for digestion. However, Helicobacter pylori has an increased resistance to stomach acid. It is unclear why the Helicobacter pylori bacteria does not pose problems with some, yet infiltrates the stomach lining in others causing stomach inflammation, with the potential of creating ulcers or even cancer. The infection presented with Helicobacter pylori remains in the stomach and does not spread to other areas of the body.
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Helicobacter pylori is a prevalent germ, found in all areas of the world. It is probably the most common bacterial infection in the world. Although it is uncertain where the bacteria originates, it may enter the body through the mouth via contaminated food, beverage or other contaminated object. Once in the body, it finds its way to the stomach where it sets up residence. Additionally, an infected person can infect another person through saliva by kissing, or by eating after the infected person.
Both dogs and cats can contract a Helicobacter infection. However, the types of Helicobacter that infect dogs and cats are different from the human form of pylori. A small percentage of people are affected with Helicobacter canis, which is the type of dog Helicobacter. Treatment for humans with Helicobacter canis is the same as Helicobacter pylori.
Researchers and doctors are not certain how Helicobacter pylori is acquired in the human population. Currently there is not a vaccine for it, therefore, the best means of protection is prevention. The most effective method of prevention is to wash hands thoroughly before eating or cooking, after visiting the bathroom and after contact with pets. Eat food that has been prepared in a clean area and drink water, and beverages made with water, from a safe and reliable source.
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