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Survival of Helicobacter Pylori in a Natural Freshwater Environment

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Abstract:The mode by which Helicobacter pylori, the causative agent of most gastric ulcers, is transmitted remains undetermined. Epidemiological evidence suggests these organisms are waterborne; however, H. pylori has rarely been grown from potential water sources. This may be due to the ability of this organism to rapidly enter the viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state. Our investigation examines the entrace of H. pylori into this state in laboratory cultures and a natural freshwater environment as well as the relationship between morphology and culturability. To this end, membrane diffusion chambers were utilized to expose the cells to the natural fluctuations of a freshwater stream. In both the laboratory and environment, samples were assayed for culturability using plate counts and stained using a LIVE/DEAD BacLight assay for viability and morphological determinations. Additionally, water samples were collected, six environmental parameters were measured, and resuscitation conditions were examined, H. pylori was observed to lose culturability in the laboratory and stream, although viability was maintained. While the results of our study agree with those of previous studies which suggested that there is a transition in morphology from rods to cocci as culturability is lost, the morphological distribution of cells did not change as culturability was lost in the environment. The majority of cells in the VBNC state in the laboratory are cocci; however, all morphological forms were present in the environment. The results of these studies suggest that H. pylori persists in laboratory cultures and the environment in the VBNC state and that cells in this state represent a public health hazard.
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Citation:Adams, B. L., T. C. Bates, and J. D. Oliver. Survival of Helicobacter Pylori in a Natural Freshwater Environment. APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY 69(12):7462-7466, (2003).
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Contact: Mary P. O'Bryant - (919)-541-4871 or obriant.mary@epa.gov
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Division: Microbiological & Chemical Exposure Assessment Division
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Branch: Microbial Exposure Research Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 12/01/2003
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Exploratory Occurrence Study of Newly Emerging Pathogens in Potable Water
spacer Relationship Reason:   A Project of the Product
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Last Updated on Monday, October 22, 2007
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