There is a great paucity of information about Helicobacter pylori infection in the countries of the Caribbean basin. Almost no studies have been performed to determine the prevalence, antibiotic resistance or virulence factors of the bacterium. To measure the prevalence of H. pylori infection among patients attending endoscopy in three clinics in Havana, Cuba, to evaluate clarithromycin resistance, and to determine the cagA status of the strains obtained. Endoscopy was performed and biopsies were obtained from 117 successive patients attending the Institute of Oncology, the Institute of Gastroenterology, and the Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana, Cuba. Biopsies were maintained at –70 ºC before being cultured on three different media (two selective and one non-selective) and incubated for 7 days at 37 °C under a microaerobic atmosphere. The presence of H. pylori was identified by oxidase, catalase and urease activities. DNA was extracted, and PCR was performed with primers H2761676 which amplify a 397 bp fragment of the cagA gene. Clarithromycin susceptibility was measured by the gel diffusion method. The diagnoses of patients were: 1 gastric carcinoma; 19 duodenal ulcers; 8 gastric ulcers; and 89 non-ulcer dyspepsia, including (62) gastritis, (9) hiatal hernia,(2) biliary reflux, (1) gastric polyps, and (15) no abnormality. Among the 117 biopsies tested, 83 were H. pylori positive (70.9%). The cagA status determined for 35 cases gave a positive result in 31 cases (88.5%). Only 3% of the strains were resistant to clarithromycin. The prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection in the symptomatic population of La Habana is the same as reported for other developing countries. Most strains were cagA positive and are likely harbour the cag pathogenicity island. The low resistance to clarithromycin in the strains studied probably reflects the low degree of use of the antibiotic in this population.


H. pylori, prevalence, endoscopic diagnosis

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