Helicobacter pylori infection in indigenous families of Central America: Serostatus and oral and fingernail carriage

S. A. Dowsett, L. Archila, V. A. Segreto, C. R. Gonzalez, A. Silva, K. A. Vastola, R. D. Bartizek, M. J. Kowolik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Helicobacter pylori infection remains one of the most common in humans, but the route of transmission of the bacterium is still uncertain. This study was designed to elucidate possible sources of infection in an isolated, rural population in Guatemala. A total of 242 subjects in family units participated in the study. A medical history, including a history of dyspepsia, was taken by a physician and immunoglobulin G antibodies to H. pylori were detected with the QuickVue (Quidel, San Diego, Calif.) onsite serology test. Overall, 58% of subjects were seropositive, with a positive relationship between mother and child (P = 0.02) and a positive correlation between the serostatuses of siblings (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.63). There was no association between serostatus and gastric symptoms. Oral H. pylori was detected from periodontal pockets of various depths and the dorsum of the tongue by nested PCR. Eighty-seven percent of subjects had at least one oral site positive for H. pylori, with the majority of subjects having multiple positive sites. There was no association between periodontal pocket depth and the detection of H. pylori. Nested PCR was also used to detect H. pylori from beneath the nail of the index finger of each subject's dominant hand. Overall, 58% of subjects had a positive fingernail result, with a significant positive relationship between fingernail and tongue positivity (P = 0.002). In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that oral carriage of H. pylori may play a role in the transmission of infection and that the hand may be instrumental in transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2456-2460
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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