We studied gastric Helicobacter spp. in five red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Samples of stomach from the cardia, corpus, pyloric antrum, and duodenum were subjected to histopathologic, immunohistochemical, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) examination for the presence of Helicobacter and gastritis. All foxes had gastric Helicobacter-like organisms (GHLOs) on examination by light microscopy and TEM. Gastric Helicobacter-like organisms were present in all areas of the stomachs. Chronic mild or moderate gastric inflammation was associated with infection by GHLOs in one or more regions of the stomach, but there was no correlation between inflammation and infection. It is not clear whether the organisms were causing the minimal histologic lesions observed, but the gastric mucosa of free-living foxes appears to be commonly colonized with GHLOs. The frequent colonization of free-living foxes with distinct GHLOs possibly reflects their special characteristic in feeding and/or social behavior or the potential commensal nature of the bacteria in free-ranging foxes.
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Vol. 40 • No. 3