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  • Meeting abstract
  • Open Access

Helicobacter pylori infection in intensive care: increased prevalence and a new nosocomial infection

  • 1,
  • 1 and
  • 1
Critical Care19982 (Suppl 1) :P098

  • Published:


  • Risk Score
  • Pylorus Infection
  • Blood Donor
  • Nosocomial Infection
  • Acute Stress


The pathogenesis of acute gastric stress ulceration in the seriously ill is uncertain and any role of Helicobacter pylori infection is unknown. We aimed to assess the relationship between H. pylori serological status and stress ulceration in seriously ill patients, as well as H. pylori serological status in Intensive Care nurses as a marker for nosocomial infection.


Prospective epidemiological survey.


Adult Intensive Care Unit in a University teaching hospital.


100 patients, 100 nurses and 500 blood donors as community controls.


H. pylori serological status was measured in patients, staff and controls using a rapid whole blood test. Upper gastrointestinal bleeding and risk factors for acute stress ulceration were recorded.

Measurements and main results

In seriously ill patients, H. pylori seropositivity (67%) was significantly higher than in the control group (39%) (P < 0.001). In patients, seropositivity was not related to age, country of birth, diagnostic category, severity of illness or risk score for stress ulceration. There was a trend towards increased macroscopic gastric bleeding in seropositive patients. In Intensive Care nurses, H. pylori seropositivity (40%) was significantly higher than in age'matched controls (19%) (P < 0.001). Only duration of Intensive Care nursing was significantly associated with seropositivity (P = 0.02).


The unexpectedly high H. pylori seropositivity rate in this seriously ill cohort raises the possibility that under Intensive Care conditions H. pylori infection may modulate responses to illness and injury, with consequent clinical implications. Furthermore, the elevated seropositivity rate in Intensive Care nurses suggests that H. pylori can be nosocomially transmitted.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Pathology, The Royal Melbourne HospitalUniversity of Newcastle, Parkville, VIC 3050, Newcastle, NSW 2300, Australia


© Current Science Ltd 1998