Etiology: Helicobacters are Gram-negative, microaerophilic spiral motile bacteria. H. muridarum, H. typhlonius, H. bilis, H. rodentium and H. trogontum are species of Helicobacter that colonize laboratory rats.
Incidence: The incidence of infection is moderate.
Transmission: The mode of transmission is by the fecal-oral route. Rodent helicobacters normally colonize the lower intestinal tract and can be transmitted to naive rats through contact with feces-laden bedding.
Clinical Signs: Most rats colonized with helicobacters remain asymptomatic for long periods of time. Certain rats (athymic nude) may develop a proliferative, inflammatory typhlitis when infected with H. bilis and may show signs of rectal prolapse.
Pathology: Certain rats (athymic nude) will develop a proliferative, inflammatory typhlitis when infected with H. bilis.
Diagnosis: Helicobacters can be detected by PCR testing and histopathology. PCR of feces is the most sensitive and rapid diagnostic method used for screening rodents for infection.