Specimens of gastric mucosa and liver of 25 free-ranging Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and four red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) shot in Sweden during 1999–2000, were investigated for the presence of Helicobacter species. Histopathology, bacteriologic culture and urease test, Helicobacter genus-specific 16S rDNA PCR analysis, and DNA sequence analysis were applied. Numerous Helicobacter-like organisms were observed histologically in the gastric mucosa of one fox. Helicobacter spp. were detected in the stomach by PCR analysis in 17 (68%) of the lynx and in three (75%) of the foxes. Seven of the positive lynx were also positive in the urease test. PCR fragments, amplified from lynx and foxes, were sequenced and compared with those of known Helicobacter species. PCR products from lynx were closely related (≥98% homology) to H. heilmannii, and PCR fragments from foxes demonstrated close homology to H. heilmannii and H. salomonis. No Helicobacter spp. or Helicobacter-like organisms could be cultured. The PCR analysis of the liver was negative for all animals. The pathologic significance of the presence of Helicobacter spp. in the stomach of free-ranging lynx and foxes remains uncertain.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3