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Can I give Helicobacter pylori infection to my cat?

By: Dr. Jon Rappaport

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Our question this week was:

My cat was diagnosed with possible duodenal disease. I recently had an H. pylori infection that was treated with antibiotics. Is it possible that I gave the infection to my cat or vice-versa? She sometimes licks my spoon after I eat.

Kelley Owen


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. I looked up some information about Helicobacter in cats. We have a very good article on this that might be helpful. Go to Helicobacter in Cats.

Some information from our article includes:

Exactly how the Helicobacter pylori organism is transmitted is not clear. In people, fecal-oral spread has been hypothesized because the organism can be cultured from feces. Oral-oral spread is suggested because the organism can be found in the saliva of infected people. Recently the organism was isolated in surface water in the United States and Sweden. Similar studies have not been performed for species of the organism that can infect dogs, thus, some or perhaps all of the modes suggested for humans are possible for dogs. In dogs, transmission of the organism from a mother to her puppies has been reported.

There is some concern about the risk of transmission of Helicobacter-like organisms from dogs and cats to humans, as some species of Helicobacter that infect humans have been found in cats and dogs. The risk seems relatively slight, however.

The role of Helicobacter in causing gastric disease in dogs is hotly debated. The majority of infected dogs do not show obvious clinical signs of gastric disease. This is in stark contrast to humans, for whom strong evidence links the organism to chronic gastritis, ulcer disease and stomach cancer. The organism has been implicated in causing gastric ulcers in ferrets and pigs, and in causing severe gastritis (stomach inflammation) in cheetahs.


So, as you can see, a lot is not known for sure about transmission of Helicobacter pylori from cats to people but it sounds like it is possible. You might want to discuss this with your vet.

Best of luck!


Dr. Jon



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