Adults kiss at low risk for H. pylori
The oro-oral route of transmission is unlikely to be an important mode for Helicobacter pylori infection, researchers conclude in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
To investigate the risk of H. pylori reinfection or recrudescence via kissing, W Luman and team at the Singapore General Hospital, Singapore, established the prevalence of different H. pylori genotypes in gastric biopsy samples from 89 infected, dyspeptic patients.
After questioning 31 spouses on their medical history, upper-gastrointestinal symptoms, and drug use, the researchers used serological testing to diagnose 16 of the partners as H. pylori-positive, 13 of whom agreed to undergo gastroscopy. All were found H. pylori-positive using the molecular technique restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis (RFLP).
For couples with H. pylori strains indistinguishable using one RFLP enzyme, a second enzyme was used to confirm the strains isolated were identical.
Luman et al found eight genotypic strains of the bacteria, with two accounting for 80.8% of the cases.
Importantly, five couples were found to share H. pylori genotypes by analysis with the first enzyme. However, on the second analysis the strains were found to differ.
'From the findings of this study, it appears that H. pylori is unlikely to be transmitted between spouses', the researchers comment.
The weak risk may be due to low concentration or viability of oral cavity bacteria, or the absence of specific conditions, commonly found in childhood, required for infection, they add.