Here are the top interesting facts about E. coli:

#1 E. coli is the name of a type of bacteria which lives in the intestines of humans and animals. A majority of this type of bacterium is good for human health since it plays a vital role in keeping our gut flora healthy. However, some types can make you sick. The genome of this bacterium consists of about 4000 different proteins and about 4.6 million base pairs and encodes.

#2 Pregnant women, individuals with weakened immune systems, young children, and seniors are at increased risk for developing complications after an E. coli infection. It is more frequent during the summer months. Also, this type of infection is contagious for at least as long as the sufferer has diarrhea, and occasionally longer.

#3 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 265,000 STEC infections occur per year in the US. E. coli O157:H7 causes approximately 36 percent of these infections. In the first days of 2018, 24 infections with O157:H7 have occurred in 15 states, including New York, California, Vermont Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Causes

#4 Individuals can become infected by:

  • swallowing in recreational water (streams, lakes, springs, rivers, swimming pools, ponds, jacuzzis, hot tubs, and water park fountains) contaminated with this bacterium;
  • touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your mouth or putting a contaminated object into the mouth;
  • contact with pets or farm animals;
  • eating contaminated food, like – raw produce items (like – lettuce or sprouts), undercooked hamburger,  or soft cheeses made from raw milk;
  • drinking unpasteurized juice, milk, or cider.

Symptoms

#5 Most individuals typically observe symptoms 3-4 days after they have been infected, however, symptoms can begin anytime between 1 and 14 days after the infection.

#6 Common symptoms initially include – vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Other symptoms which may occur include – bloody diarrhea and fever, depending on the bacterial subtype. Bloody diarrhea usually lasts for 2 to 5 days.

#7 Diarrhea which lasts for more than 3 days or comes with a high fever is an indication that the sufferers should contact their healthcare professionals.

#8 E. coli serotypes, such as – 0104:H4 pr 0145, can act like 0157:H7 if they acquire the capacity to produce Shiga toxin. Sometimes, E. coli infection can cause bowel necrosis and perforation without progressing to the hemolytic uremic syndrome.

#9 According to a 2012 report that was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, this bacterium is responsible for about 85% of all urinary tract infections. UTIs are one of the most frequent bacterial infections of humans and a major cause of morbidity.

#10 It is estimated that there are approximately 10 million patients in the European Unions every year. Most urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli which live harmlessly in the gut. Nevertheless, when shed in the feces, this bacterium can spread to the opening of the urinary tract and up to the bladder and may cause problems.

#11 Gastrointestinal complications which can cause this type of infections include – ischemic colitis (injury and inflammation of the colon that results from inadequate blood supply), irritable bowel syndrome, perforation of the large bowel, appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix), and in gangrene in the large intestine.

#12 Usually, this condition is self-limiting, however, it may lead to a serious disease called – hemolytic uremic syndrome, particularly in seniors and young children. The hemolytic uremic syndrome is a condition which is commonly treated in an intensive care unit and frequently requires kidney dialysis and blood transfusions. With intensive care, the fatality rate for the hemolytic uremic syndrome is 3 to 5%.

Treatment

#13 Because of its ubiquity, many strains of these bacteria have become resistant to the most used antibiotics, therefore, these medicines should not be used for this infection. The main treatment is hydration, in the form of either intravenous or oral hydration. Antidiarrheal agents should not be used. More importantly, the use of antibiotics may even increase the likelihood of developing the hemolytic uremic syndrome.

#14 Sometimes, antimotility agents (such as – diphenoxylate with atropine, loperamide, tincture of opium, morphine, and codeine) and antibiotics may be useful for enterotoxigenic E. coli, that may cause traveler’s diarrhea (a digestive tract condition which causes abdominal cramps and loose stools).

Prevention

#15 To help prevent this infection, you should wash vegetables and fruits before eating or cooking them, cook meat well, and avoid unpasteurized juices and milk.

#16 Contamination in fruits and vegetables is possible in the refrigerator, at the grocery store, or from cutting boards and counters through cross-contamination with this bacterium from raw poultry, meat, or seafood. According to the data, in the US, the infection caused by this bacterium leads to over 100 deaths and 265,000 illnesses every year.

#17 Furthermore, before and after coming into contact with raw meat, wash utensils using hot soapy water particularly on cutting boards, knives, and countertops.

#18 It is recommended to use a food thermometer to be sure that ground beef has reached an internal temperature of 160° F.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4373459/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK9917/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/01/11
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-23125962