Background & Aims: Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection clusters within families, is usually acquired early in life, and is strongly associated with lower socioeconomic status during childhood. Transmission in adulthood is relatively rare, and reports on the prevalence of Hp infection among health personnel, especially endoscopists, are controversial. The present prospective study evaluated the prevalence of Hp infection in health-care workers in primary-care clinics and in gastroenterology units. Methods: Health care personnel from gastrointestinal units (n = 191) and primary care-clinics (n = 98) of the Clalit Health Services (CHS) in Israel underwent the carbon 13 breath test (13C-UBT) and completed a 21-item demographic and socioeconomic questionnaire. The control group consisted of 4633 symptomatic patients with no evidence of previous Hp infection. Results: The 13C-UBT was positive in 108 gastrointestinal unit personnel (73%) and 70 primary-care workers (71%); both rates were statistically higher significantly than the 53% positivity in the controls. Comparison of the 13C-UBT Hp-positive and Hp-negative health-care personnel yielded a significantly higher index of crowded living conditions in the Hp-positive group. In the gastrointestinal unit workers, Hp positivity was also associated with several years in practice, and in the primary-care workers, with Sephardic (Asian and African origin) versus Ashkenazi (Europe and American) origin. Profession (physician, nurse, technician, secretary, or maintenance worker), history of duodenal ulcer, smoking, marital status, and blood group did not have predictive value for Hp colonization. Conclusions: The prevalence of Hp infection in Israel is higher in health-care staff of primary-care clinics and gastrointestinal units than in the general population. This may be related to socioeconomic facts and professional hazard. Further studies are needed to clarify this issue.
- Health workers
- Helicobacter pylori