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J Clin Microbiol. 1996 Oct;34(10):2479-82.

Helicobacter canis isolated from a dog liver with multifocal necrotizing hepatitis.

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Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


On the basis of biochemical, phenotypic, and 16S rRNA analysis, a novel gram-negative bacterium, isolated from normal and diarrheic dogs as well as humans with gastroenteritis, has been recently named Helicobacter canis. A 2-month-old female crossbred puppy was submitted to necropsy with a history of weakness and vomiting for several hours prior to death. The liver had multiple and slightly irregular yellowish foci up to 1.5 cm in diameter. Histologically, the liver parenchyma contained randomly distributed, occasionally coalescing hepatocellular necrosis, often accompanied by large numbers of mononuclear cells and neutrophils. Sections of liver stained by the Warthin-Starry silver impregnation technique revealed spiral- to curve-shaped bacteria predominantly located in bile canaliculi and occasionally in bile ducts. Aerobic culture of liver was negative, whereas small colonies were noted on Campylobacter selective media after 5 days of microaerobic incubation. The bacteria were gram negative and oxidase positive but catalase, urease, and indoxyl acetate negative; nitrate was not reduced to nitrite, and the organism did not hydrolyze hippurate. The bacteria were also resistant to 1.5% bile. Electron microscopy revealed spiral-shaped bacteria with bipolar sheathed flagella. By 16S rRNA analysis, the organism was determined to be H. canis. This is the first observation of H. canis in active hepatitis in a dog and correlates with recent findings of Helicobacter hepaticus- and Helicobacter bilis-related hepatic disease in mice. Further studies are clearly warranted to ascertain whether H. canis-associated hepatitis is more widespread in canines as well as a cause of previously classified idiopathic liver disease in humans.

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