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Escherichia coli Infection: Prevention and Treatment of E Coli Symptoms

Updated on April 17, 2012
Microscopic Appearance of E Coli Infection
Microscopic Appearance of E Coli Infection

Escherichia Coli and Health: What is E Coli?

Escherichia coli or E. coli is a bacterium which can result in gastro-intestinal infection which in turn can cause diarrhea, severe cramps and urinary tract infection.

E. coli infection is commoner during summer; and E. coli infection symptoms tend to be more marked and prominent in children, old people and immune-compromised individuals.

It is very vital that you understand what causes E. coli infection and how to treat it effectively.

E. coli Infection: Escherichia Infection

In effect, E. coli is an essential bacterium within our bowel tract; it helps digestion, but, it can be extremely perilous if ingested. Some strains of Escherichia coliare not dangerous, whilst, some are exceedingly harmful and aggressive.

If you ingest E. coli, through contaminated drink or food, you may develop E. coli poisoning symptoms like enteritis (inflammation of the intestine), urinary tract infections and pulmonary infections.

How do you get E. coli? How is E. coli Spread?

Important causes and etiological factors for E. coli infection are:

  • Consuming food and / or drink that is contaminated. It is therefore recommended to wash raw fruits and vegetables throughly with clean water before consuming or being using them for cooking.
  • Consuming inadequately cooked ground beef can increase the risk of E coli infection.
  • Consuming unpasteurized milk increases the risk of E coli infection. Though pasteurization of milk results in reduction in the value of Vitamin B12, it is often recommended to prevent secondary infection.
  • Working with cattle or having pets at home also increases the risk of getting contaminated and infected with E coli.
  • Also, healthy cattle may harbor E. coli in their gut. Meat could get contaminated during slaughtering. When the beef is ground up, the bacteria get mixed throughout the meat and could trigger infection.
  • Spread occurs in hospitals, nursing homes, and day care centers and is often a hospital acquired infection. Though E coli is less severe than MRSA, which is also a hospital acquired infection, it is highly contagious.

E. coli Symptoms: Symptoms of E coli Infection

E coli infection often results in Gastro-enteritis. The symptoms and clinical manifestations of E. coli infection Include,

  1. Severe and excruciating abdominal pain with intermittent abdominal cramps
  2. Blood in the stool also referred to as dysentry
  3. Severe diarrhea with loose and watery stools
  4. Nausea and Vomiting may also be present, which increase the risk of dehydration.
  5. Other systemic symptoms include low grade fever and lethargy, fatigue and tiredness.
  6. In some E coli infections that are associated with Urinary Tract Infection, symptoms include burning in the urine, itching around the genitals, bloody urine, smelly urine, and cloudy appearance of urine.
  7. In rare and severe cases, meningitis or inflammation of the covering of the brain is a presenting feature.

Escherichia coli Symptoms and Neonatal Meningitis

A serotype of Escherichia. Coli, that has a capsular antigen called K1 is known to cause meningitis in newborns. The clinical picture for neonatal meningitis is very high fever, diarrhea, projectile vomiting, and continuous crankiness and crying.

E coli Prevention: Treatment for E coli Infection

Here are some simple tips that can help in preventing and managing E coli infections,

  • Wash all foods thoroughly with clean warm water, espeically when consuming them raw. Wash vegetables and fruits prior to consuming them or using them for cooking foods
  • Cook ground beef at a temprature of 160F, so that the color of the beef changes from pink to red. However, dont rely absolutely on the color. Use a meat thermometer to measure the temprature.
  • Pausterize milk before drinking it. Pausterized milk reduces the risk of E coli infection. Pastuerizing milk can help kill bacteria and e coli harboured in it.
  • Keep all utensils and cooking items clean
  • Travellers to other countries should ensure that they drink boiled water and consume clean food. Some studies have suggested that mangoes are good for the management of gastroentritis and symptoms associated with them.


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