Prevalence and risk factors for Helicobacter pylori transmission in the Eastern Cape Province application of immunological molecular and demographic methods

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University of Fort Hare


Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a microaerophilic, Gram-negative motile curved rod that inhabits the gastric mucosa of the human stomach. The organism chronically infects billions of people worldwide and is one of the most genetically diverse of bacterial species. Infection with the organism potentially induces chronic gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. In addition, H. pylori plays a role in the etiology of gastric cancer and gastric MALT lymphoma. The risk of infection is increased in those living in the developing world, which has been ascribed to precarious hygiene standards, crowded households, and deficient sanitation common in this part of the world. Thus, the aim of this study was to identify the risk factors in the transmission of H. pylori in our environment, i.e. in Nkonkobe Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Faecal samples were collected from 356 apparently healthy subjects, consisting of 168 males and 188 females aged from 3 months to 60 years (Mean = 31 years). A standardized questionnaire was applied, it described demographic characteristics including age, sex, household hygiene, socioeconomic status, area of residence, duration of stay in the area, sharing bath water, sharing tooth brush, habit of sucking thumb, medication currently being taken or medication taken within the past three months, source of water, type of toilet used, education and occupation. A sandwich-type enzyme immunoassay amplification technology (Amplified IDEIA TM Hp StAR TM , Oxoid, UK) was used to analyze the faecal samples for the detection of H. pylori antigens using monoclonal antibodies specific for H. pylori antigens. To assess the possibility of faecal oral route with tap water as an intermediary link, PCR targeting the ureC (glmM), a highly conserved gene in H. pylori was carried out to detect H. pylori DNA in faecal samples of already positive samples by HpSA test as well as in direct tap water used by the H. pylori positive subjects. QIAamp DNA stool mini kit was used to extract DNA from faecal samples. Tap water samples were then obtained using sterile bottles from areas inhabited by H. pylori positive subjects as determined by HpSA test and PCR. DNA extraction from water samples was done using UltraCleanTM Water DNA Isolation Kit (0.22μm) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. PCR with primers specific for H. pylori glmM gene was carried out with both positive and negative controls incorporated. Fisher’s exact test was used to assess the univariate association between H. pylori infection and the possible risk factors. Odds ratio (OR) and the corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated to measure the strength of association using EPI INFO 3.41 package. P values of < .05 were required for significance. The precision rate of the diagnostic tests used was also determined. H. pylori antigen was detected in 316 of the 356 subjects giving an overall prevalence of 88.8%. Prevalence increased with age from 75.9% in children < 12 years age to 100% in the age group from 13 years to 24 years, also 100% prevalence of H. pylori was recorded in young adults aged 25-47 years and subjects aged 60 years (P < .05). H. pylori prevalence was higher in females than in males. Of 188 females who participated in the study, H. pylori antigen was detected in 172 (91.5%) versus 144 (85.7%) of 168 males (P > .05). Interestingly, H pylori antigen was detected more often (100%) in the high socioeconomic group than in those of low socioeconomic group (85.9%). Sixteen (66.7%) of twenty four faecal samples that had previously tested positive for the organism by HpSA test were confirmed positive by PCR. However none of the treated tap water samples tested positive for the organism by PCR. The present study revealed a high prevalence of H. pylori in faecal samples of asymptomatic individuals in the Nkonkobe Municipality, an indication of active infection. The obtained results also revealed that direct treated tap water might not be playing a crucial role in the oral transmission of H. pylori in the studied population.



Helicobacter pylori., Bacterial diseases., Gastritis Risk factors., Bacterial diseases Risk factors., Gram-negative bacteria., Gram-negative bacterial infections., Helicobacter., Helicobacter infections., Helicobacter pylori South Africa, Eastern Cape.