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J Clin Microbiol. Apr 1994; 32(4): 1043–1049.
PMCID: PMC267178

Animal and public health implications of gastric colonization of cats by Helicobacter-like organisms.


The bacterial genus Helicobacter contains a number of species which colonize the gastric mucosa of mammals. Natural and/or experimental gastric pathology has been correlated with colonization in humans and a wide variety of animal species. Historical reports in the literature suggest that a high percentage of cats are colonized by large, spiral, gastric helicobacter-like organisms (GHLOs). One of these bacteria (Helicobacter felis) has been isolated on artificial media and has experimentally caused gastritis in gnotobiotic dogs. This study surveyed the prevalence of helicobacter colonization in random-source cats by using the urease assay. Histologic examination was performed to determine the degree of associated pathology present. GHLOs associated with chronic gastritis were present in 70% of the juvenile and 97% of the adult cats studied. Although further study is needed to determine specifically what role GHLOs play in feline gastrointestinal disease, these results indicate that helicobacter colonization should be considered in the pathogenesis of feline gastroenteropathy. Furthermore, the high prevalence of feline infection is interesting because cats have recently been implicated as a potential reservoir for human infection by helicobacter-like organisms.

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