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. This type of infection may need medical attention. Contact your doctor if you think you may have it.
  • 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

    Factors that increase your chance of developing E. coli infection include:
    • Age: children and older people
    • People with another illness
    • Working with cattle
    • Living in northern states
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of E. coli infection include:
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask 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 medicine 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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    If you are diagnosed with an E. coli infection, follow your doctor's instructions .
  • Prevention

    To help prevent E. coli infection:
    • Cook all ground beef and hamburger thoroughly.
    • Avoid eating undercooked hamburger or other ground beef.
    • Keep raw meats separate from ready-to-eat foods.
    • Wash hands, counters, and utensils with hot soapy water after they are exposed to raw meat.
    • Drink only pasteurized milk, juice, and cider.
    • Wash fruits and vegetables under running water.
    • Drink municipal water that has been treated with a disinfectant.
    • Wash hands after bowel movements and after changing soiled diapers.
  • RESOURCES

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Food Inspection Agency http://www.inspection.gc.ca

    Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

    References

    EColi infection. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/digestive/disorders/242.html . Updated February 2011. Accessed March 20, 2013.

    E. coli (Escherichia coli) . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/ . Accessed March 20, 2013.

    Frequently asked questions about Escherichia Coli infection. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services website. Available at: http://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/factsheets/f%5Fecoli.pdf . Accessed March 20, 2013.

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