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

Objective

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.

Design

Prospective epidemiological survey.

Setting

Adult Intensive Care Unit in a University teaching hospital.

Patients

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

Interventions

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).

Conclusions

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.

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Robertson, M., Cade, J. & Clancy, R. Helicobacter pylori infection in intensive care: increased prevalence and a new nosocomial infection. Crit Care 2, P098 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1186/cc227

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Keywords

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