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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Examination of equine glandular stomach lesions for bacteria, including Helicobacter spp by fluorescence in situ hybridisation

Louise Husted1, Tim K Jensen2, Susanne N Olsen1 and Lars Mølbak2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Large Animal Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Hoejbakkegaard Allé 5, 2630 Taastrup, Denmark

2 Danish Veterinary Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Bülowsvej 27, 1790 Copenhagen V, Denmark

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:84  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-84

Published: 19 March 2010



The equine glandular stomach is commonly affected by erosion and ulceration. The aim of this study was to assess whether bacteria, including Helicobacter, could be involved in the aetiology of gastric glandular lesions seen in horses.


Stomach lesions, as well as normal appearing mucosa were obtained from horses slaughtered for human consumption. All samples were tested for urease activity using the Pyloritek® assay, while mucosal bacterial content was evaluated using Fluorescence In Situ Hybridisation. In selected sub samples, bacteria characterisation was pursued further by cloning and sequencing. Mucosal lesions were found in 36/63 stomachs and included hyperplastic rugae, polypoid structures and focal erosions. None of the samples were tested positive for urease activity or for FISH using the Helicobacter genus specific probe. In samples of lesions, as well as normal samples, clones with 99% similarities to Lactobacillus salivarius and Sarcina ventriculi were found. Escherichia like bacterium clones and Enterococcus clones were demonstrated in one focal erosion. Based on a phylogenetic tree these clones had 100% similarity to Escherichia fergusonii and Enterococcus faecium. The Enterococcus were found colonising the mucosal surface, while E. fergusonii organisms were also demonstrated intraepithelial.


Gastric Helicobacter spp. could not be verified as being involved in lesions of the glandular stomach of the horse. Since E. fergusonii has been described as an emerging pathogen in both humans and animals, the finding of this bacterium in gastric erosion warrants further clarification to whether gastric infection with this type bacterium is important for horses.