Nickname: H. pylori
Morphology: Gram-negative rod shaped like an “S”.
Habitat: About two-thirds of the world’s population has H. pylori in their bodies. For most people, it doesn’t cause ulcers or any other symptoms.
Disease or illness: This bacterium can attack the lining of your stomach, which usually protects you from the acid your body uses to digest food. Once the bacteria have done enough damage, stomach acid can leak through the lining and cause ulcers and a burning pain in your belly. You feel the pain the most when your stomach is empty, between meals or during the night.
Who is at risk: Many people get H. pylori during childhood. The germs live in the body for years before an ulcer develops, but most people who have it will never get ulcers. Doctors aren’t sure why only some people get ulcers after an infection.
Avoidance techniques: Don’t let H. pylori enter your body. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom and before preparing or eating food. Cook food thoroughly; avoid food served by people with unwashed hands.