Occurrence of Helicobacter pylori in surface water in the United States

J. P. Hegarty, M. T. Dowd, K. H. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


The primary mode of transmission of the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori is unresolved. This study examined the possibility that H. pylori is water-borne. Because methods for the direct culture of H. pylori from water samples remain elusive, a microscopic technique was used for detection of this organism. Actively respiring micro-organisms binding monoclonal anti-H. pylori antibody were found in the majority of surface and shallow groundwater samples tested (n = 62), indicating that H. pylori may be present in aquatic environments in the US and supporting a water-borne route of transmission for this organism. There was no significant correlation between the occurrence of either total coliforms or Escherichia coli in the water and the presence of H. pylori. Our results indicate that routine screening of water supplies for the presence of traditional indicator organisms may fail to protect the consumer from exposure to H. pylori.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-701
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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