Isolation of Helicobacter mustelae from ferrets in New Zealand

Isolation of Helicobacter mustelae from ferrets in New Zealand
Peer reviewed


AIMS:  The bacterial genus Helicobacter contains over 20 species, including the human gastric pathogen H. pylori, and the mustelid-specific H. mustelae. A previous study in this country failed to isolate H. mustelae from a captive breeding colony of ferrets. We sought to confirm whether or not H. mustelae was present in this country.
METHODS:  A combination of bacterial culture, phenotypic testing and molecular techniques were used to isolate and identify gastric bacteria from captive and wild populations of ferrets in the New Zealand North Island.
RESULTS:  Bacteria were isolated from captive and wild ferrets which were phylogenetically identical to the type strain of H. mustelae. A mild to moderate gastritis was seen in five of six animals examined, and an antibody response to H. mustelae proteins was demonstrated.
CONCLUSIONS: Helicobacter mustelae is not exotic to New Zealand, but is present in two populations of ferrets tested in the North Island.
KEY WORDS: Ferrets, gastritis, Helicobacter mustelae.

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