Helicobacter-like organisms in the stomach of pigs with and without gastric ulceration

Sergey I. Melnichouk, DVM; Robert M. Friendship, DVM, MSc,DipABVP; Catherine E. Dewey, DVM, MSc, PhD; Robert J. Bildfell,DVM, MSc, DipACVP; Nonie L. Smart, DVM, MSc, PhD

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Objectives: To determine whether Helicobacterorganisms are present in commercially reared pigs in North Americaand whether the presence of these bacteria is associated withgastric ulcers.

Methods: Stomachs of pigs from four farms with diversemanagement systems were examined. The presence of Helicobacterwas determined using an in-situ urease mapping technique and performingmicroscopic examination using Warthin-Starry silver stain. Culturewas attempted using methods appropriate for Campylobacterspecies and Helicobacter pylori. The presence oflesions in the pars oesophagea based on macroscopic examinationwas recorded.

Results: Spiral-shaped bacteria morphologically similarto H. heilmannii were detected in the stomachs of pigsfrom three of the four herds. The highest prevalence of positivestomachs (87%) occurred in a farrow-to-finish herd with a continuous-flowgrower-finisher barn with floor feeding. The presence of Helicobacter-likeorganisms was not related to the presence of gastric ulcers.

Implications: Programs to eliminate Helicobacterhave been shown to be highly successful in curing gastric ulcerationin humans, but on the basis of this study, an antibiotic approachis unlikely to be of benefit in solving gastric ulcer problemsin swine. The prevalence of Helicobacter in stomachs ofpigs at slaughter may be related to husbandry practices and biosecurity.It may be possible to produce pigs free of Helicobacter,and this might be important from a public health standpoint. However,at present, it appears that H. heilmannii is not a serioushealth risk to humans.

Keywords: gastric microbiology, pars oesophagea, urease testing, Helicobacter heilmannii

RIS citationCite as: Melnichouk SI, Friendship RM, Dewey CE, et al. Helicobacter-like organisms in the stomach of pigs with and without gastric ulceration. J Swine Health Prod 1999;7(5):201-205.

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