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Cockroaches & Helicobacter pylori

Aruni H.W. Mendis (PhD, DIC) & Barry J. Marshall (FAA, FRS, Nobel Laureate)

The unique reservoir of Helicobacter pylori (Hp) is the stomach of humans. Several animals which were considered as potential reservoirs (e.g. pigs, cats, sheep, & monkeys) have been exonerated [1] but not so the common cockroach. Japanese researchers have shown that when cockroaches were allowed to feed on agar plates containing the “Sydney Strain” of Hp the faeces of the cockroaches contained viable Hp which were culturable from the excreta up to 24 hours after feeding [2]. Positive rapid urease test (RUT) results were obtained from the excreta for up to 3 days after feeding and PCR analysis was positive for Hp DNA for up to day 7 days after feeding. However, Hp were not culturable from the external surfaces of the cockroaches. Thus, globally, cockroaches with access to faeces would be potential Hp carriers and caution should be exercised to prevent such zoonotic transmission.


1 Mégraud FGastroenterol Clin Biol. 2003 Mar;27(3 Pt 2):374-9.
2. Imamura S, Kita M, Yamaoka Y, Yamamoto T, Ishimaru A, Konishi H, Wakabayashi N, Mitsufuji S, Okanoue T, Imanishi J.Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jul;98(7):1500-3.

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