Volume 67, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The epidemiology of Helicobacter pylori infection and risk factors associated with its transmission are not well understood. Kazakhstan is country with two ethnic groups, Asian (Kazakhs) and Western (Russians), living under similar socioeconomic conditions. The aim of this study was to examine the seroepidemiologic pattern of H. pylori and hepatitis A among the same individuals from both ethnic groups, with emphasis on water source and household sanitation practices. This was a cross-sectional seroepidemiologic study conducted among unrelated healthy individuals in Kazakhstan. From May through August 1999, individuals between the ages of 10 and 60 years from Almaty, Kazakhstan, were invited to participate. Demographic information, socioeconomic factors, living conditions, and various aspects of the local household environment including access to water were collected. A clean water index (CWI) was created based on combined factors, consistency of boiling water before drinking, frequency of storing and reusing water, and frequency of bathing and showering. H. pylori and hepatitis A antibodies were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Two hundred eighty-eight individuals between the ages of 10 and 60 years participated. The prevalence of H. pylori infection was almost identical among the two ethnic groups (Russians 79% and Kazakhs 80%). H. pylori infection was inversely correlated with the CWI (i.e., 56%, 79%, and 95% for high, middle, and low, respectively (P < .05). Drinking river water had highest risk of H. pylori infection (OR = 13.6, 95% CI = 1.8-102.4; P < .01, compared with tap water). Crowding showed no significant effect on H. pylori prevalence. Anti-HAV antibodies were found in 86% of the population, 90% among the Russians versus 82% among the Kazakhs (OR = 1.8, 95% CI = 1.1-3.8, P = .05). Although the two infections were highly correlated (P < .001), antibody to both infections were present simultaneously in only 74%. The prevalence of H. pylori infection in Kazakhstan is very high. The data suggest that transmission of H. pylori can be water borne, related to poor sanitary practices, or both. The high prevalence of antibodies to H. pylori and HAV among this population is a marker for poor sanitation and hygienic practices. Reducing the rate of H. pylori transmission will require improvements in overall sanitation including clean water, waste disposal, as well as in household hygienic practices.


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