Escherichia coli Infection

( E. coli Infection, Escherichia coli O157:H7)

Definition

Escherichia coli ( E. coli ) infection is caused by a bacteria. It is the leading cause of bloody diarrhea.

Causes

This infection is caused by some types of the E. coli bacterium. Most E. coli infections are caused by:
  • Eating undercooked beef, especially ground beef
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Drinking unpasteurized milk
  • Working with cattle
Digestive Pathway Through Stomach and Intestines
Digestive pathway
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Risk Factors

This condition is more common in children and older adults. Factors that increase your chance of developing E. coli infection include:
  • People with another illness
  • Working with cattle
  • Living in northern states

Symptoms

Symptoms of E. coli infection include:

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your waste material may be tested. This can be done with a stool culture.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include:

Fluid Replacement and Monitoring

Most people will get better in 5-10 days. They rarely need a specific treatment. Avoid medication that stops diarrhea. Drink plenty of water and fluids. Fluids through an IV line may be needed in cases of severe dehydration .

Treatment for Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)

HUS is a life-threatening condition. It occurs in some people with E. coli infection. HUS may need to be treated with blood transfusions and kidney dialysis . Symptoms may include:
  • Pale complexion, tiredness, and irritability
  • Small, unexplained bruises, or bleeding from the nose or mouth—caused by problems in the body’s clotting mechanism
Kidney Dialysis
Dialysis pump
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