Q-237. Occurrence of Helicobacter spp. DNA in the Coastal Environment of the Caribbean Sea

M. A. García-Amado1, M. Fernández2, M. Contreras1, L. Bozo-Hurtado2, H. Rojas1, J. Alfonso1, Y. Astor3, F. Muller-Karger4, F. Michelangeli1, P. Suárez2;
1Inst. Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Miranda, VENEZUELA, 2Univ. Simón Bolívar, Miranda, VENEZUELA, 3Fundacion La Salle de Ciencias Naturales, Estación de Investigaciones Marinas de Margarita, Isla de Margarita, VENEZUELA, 4Univ. of South Florida, Coll. of Marine Sci., St. Petersburg, FL.

Helicobacter pylori, a pathogenic bacterium found in the human stomach, can cause benign or malignant gastroduodenal diseases. In developing countries, approximately 46 to 95% of people have been infected with H. pylori. This organism is thought to infect the human stomach via water by the fecal-oral route. Although many studies have been carried out, the major route of transmission of H. pylori has not yet been clearly identified. The aim of our study was to determine whether seawater might be a medium of transmission of Helicobacter spp. in coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea. We report the occurrence of Helicobacter spp. in seawater samples collected from five different localities along the northern coast of of Venezuela during years 2005 to 2007. A semi-nested PCR assay targeting the 16S rRNA gene was used for detection of Helicobacter genus in 13 seawater samples. Helicobacter-DNA was detected in 9 seawater samples from four localities. The presence of H. pylori was monitored by PCR (glmM gene) showing negative results in all samples. Our data suggest that Helicobacter spp. are present in coastal environments of Venezuela where there is concentrated human influence and sewage contamination. This represents a concern of public health.