PET LOVE SHACK
HOUSEFLIES AND ULCERS
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Why would I want to talk about Houseflies? Nellie, my red, Dobbie - mix
sister, loves to chase them. She is so funny. She doesn't pay any attention
to where she is going and sometimes bumps into things tumbling over. But
now after finding out that houseflies might be the culprit behind another
illness - just one more reason to keep them out of the house, yard, water/food
In the past, it was popular wisdom that stress
was the main cause of ulcers. Today, scientists have identified the real
culprit: a bacteria called H. pylori. Doctors aren't sure yet how the infection
gets passed from one person to the other.
Researchers in Boston think flies may be partly to blame. After watching
the movie, The Fly, it's easy to see why these ugly insects disgust so
Dr. Peter Grubel hates flies, too; but
he studies them in his Boston lab every day. He thinks flies carry and
spread H. pylori, the bacteria known to cause ulcers in humans.
Peter Grubel, M.D., gastroenterologist, St.
Elizabeth's Medical Center, Brighton, Mass., "We were very surprised
when we found that these bacteria can survive in the fly stomach like the
human stomach." H. pylori infection is more common in third world
countries where sanitation is a problem. Since flies are attracted to garbage
and animal waste, Dr. Grubel began to suspect a link.
Peter Grubel, M.D., "Three billion people
on earth have no decent toilet. So they release their fecal material in
the environment, which is a perfect spot for flies to take up bacteria
like H. pylori."
When flies are exposed to H. pylori in the
lab, they pick up the infection. And outside? Flies caught in the wild
can also carry the bacteria.
Peter Grubel, M.D., "Our preliminary data
show that H. pylori is present in flies caught in the U.S. and Europe."
Researchers still don't know whether H. pylori from a fly can directly
infect a human. But since the invisible bacteria can live and thrive in
the fly's stomach, it may be more important than ever to keep a fly swatter
About 15 percent of people infected
with H. pylori end up with an ulcer. H. pylori has also been linked to
an increased risk of stomach cancer.
For more information, contact:
St. Elizabeth's Medical Center
Doctor Referral Line
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