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Helicobacter pylori Infection among Aborigines (the Orang Asli) in the Northeastern Region of Peninsular Malaysia

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  • Universiti Sains Malaysia, School of Medical Sciences, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia; Pantai Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom; Michael E. DeBakey Veteran Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
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Whether the exceptionally low prevalence of Helicobacter pylori (HP) infection reported among Malays is also present among aborigines (the Orang Asli) living in northeastern Peninsular Malaysia is unknown. We studied asymptomatic Orang Asli from settlements situated 210 km from the city of Kota Bharu. The HP infection status was confirmed by a validated serology test. Nineteen percent of 480 Orang Asli tested positive for HP infection. The prevalence was 40.6% in the birth cohort of the 1940s and declined steadily in later cohorts to under 10% among 12–30 year olds. This may be related to the phases of relocation from the jungles into resettlement camps and ultimately into designated villages near rivers. The low prevalence pattern after the 1970s was probably partly a result of improvement in sanitation and hygiene practice in these villages but other unidentified factors may also be operating.

Author Notes

*Address correspondence to Yeong Yeh Lee, Department of Medicine, Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, 16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia. E-mail: yylee@kck.usm.my

Financial support: The study was supported by the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) short term grant (reference: 304/PPSP/6131251).

Disclosure: David Y. Graham is a consultant for Novartis in relation to vaccine development for treatment or prevention of H. pylori infection. He is also a paid consultant for Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and until July 2007 was a member of the Board of Directors of Meretek Diagnostics, the manufacturer of the 13C-urea breath test. He also receives royalties on the Baylor College of Medicine patent covering materials related to 13C-urea breath test. All other authors report no relevant conflicts.

Authors' addresses: Amry Abdul Rahim and Yeong Yeh Lee, Department of Medicine, Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia, E-mails: dramryusm@hotmail.com and yylee@kck.usm.my. Noorizan Abdul Majid and Keng Ee Choo, Department of Paediatrics, Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia, E-mails: noorizan@kb.usm.my and kechoo@kb.usm.my. Sundramoorthy Mahendra Raj, Pantai Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, E-mail: mahendraraj58@gmail.com. Mohammad H. Derakhshan, Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom, E-mail: m.derakhshan@clinmed.gla.ac.uk. David Y. Graham, Michael E. DeBakey Veteran Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, E-mail: dgraham@bcm.tmc.edu.

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