E. coli: What is It, How Does it Cause Infection, Symptoms & Causes
E. coli is a rod-shaped bacteria that lives in the intestines of healthy people and animals. The most common way to get an E. coli infection is through contaminated food, and certain strains can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach pain, and cramps.
What does E. coli look like?
E. coli is a bacterium in the Enterobacteriaceae family that can live in environments with or without oxygen, and can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal pain in healthy people and warm-blooded animals.
How many strains of E. coli cause diarrhea?
E. coli bacteria comes in six different strains that can cause diarrhea.
How does E. coli make you sick?
The E. coli strain that makes you sick produces a toxin called Shiga, which damages the lining of your small intestine and causes diarrhea. There are also non-O157 STEC strains, which are less likely to cause serious complications.
Who can get infected with E. coli?
Anyone who comes into contact with E. coli can become infected, with the very young (newborns and children) being the most vulnerable. People with weakened immune systems (cancer, diabetes, HIV, and pregnant women) are also at risk.
How common are E. coli infections?
In the United States, approximately 265,000 STEC infections occur each year, with the STEC O157 strain accounting for 36% of these infections. Infections with this strain of E. coli can cause the following symptoms: Stomach pains and cramps. Diarrhea that can range from watery to bloody. Loss of appetite or nausea.
How soon do symptoms of E. coli infection develop?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), symptoms of an E. coli infection can appear as soon as one day after exposure or as late as 10 days after eating food contaminated with the bacteria. STEC stands for Streptococcus Enterobacteriaceae.
Other than diarrhea, are there serious illnesses caused by STEC strains of E. coli?
Most E. coli infections are minor and pose no health risk, but some strains can cause severe symptoms and even life-threatening complications, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome.
What is hemolytic uremic syndrome?
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a potentially fatal illness that develops 7 days after the onset of symptoms and is treated with intravenous fluids, blood transfusions, and dialysis (for a limited time).
What causes an E. coli infection?
By ingesting (by mouth) certain strains of E. Coli bacteria, you can get an E. coli infection. As the bacteria travel down your digestive tract, they release a toxin called the Shiga toxin, which damages the lining of your small intestine.
How did I get infected with E. coli?
E. coli can enter your body through contaminated food, contaminated water, or contaminated hands. E. coli can be killed by eating undercooked meat or raw milk that hasn’t been heated to kill the bacteria. It can also get on your hands through contact with animal and human bodily fluids.
Is E. coli contagious?
STEC infections are diagnosed by sending a sample of your poop to a lab. E. coli isn’t an airborne illness; it’s usually spread by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. E. coli can be contagious and spread from person to person via the “oral-fecal route.”
What steps are involved in getting a stool sample to my healthcare provider?
To collect diarrhea, tape a plastic bag to the toilet seat; do not mix in toilet paper, soap, or water. If you can’t deliver your sample right away, store it in your refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
When will I get the results back from my stool sample?
Antibiotics are usually not given for STEC O157 infections because they can make your illness worse. Do not take any anti-diarrhea medications (such as bismuth subsalicylate or loperamide).
When should I see a healthcare provider about an E. coli infection?
The CDC recommends that you wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat or poultry, and that you don’t defrost frozen meat on the counter. Cook all meat and other foods to the safe temperatures recommended by the US Department of Agriculture. Raw hamburger on a plate with raw ground beef? Refrigerate leftovers right away.
How does E. coli cause a urinary tract infection?
Urinary tract infections can occur when E. coli from your gastrointestinal tract enters your urinary tract; this is more likely in women because the anus is close to the urethra. The most common urinary tract infections caused by E.coli are bladder infections (cystitis) and urethra infections (urethritis).
Are there better food choices I can make as I start to feel better after an E. coli infection?
Avoid high-fiber foods, fatty foods, and dairy products. Drink clear liquids such as broths, clear sodas, and water. Eat bland, low-fat foods such as toast, rice, plain crackers, and applesauce.
When can I return to work or school if I’ve been infected with E. coli?
The best and easiest way to avoid getting an E. coli infection is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest. If you have diarrhea (especially bloody diarrhea) for more than three days, contact your healthcare provider.
What are the first signs of E coli?
E. coli O157:H7 infection signs and symptoms usually appear three to four days after exposure to the bacteria.
- Diarrhea, which can range from mild and watery to severe and bloody.
- Stomach cramping, pain, or tenderness.
- In some cases, nausea and vomiting.
How long does it take for E coli to go away?
Most people recover in 6 to 8 days, but it can be fatal in infants and people who have a weakened immune system. Other types of E. coli infection can cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia, and other illnesses such as meningitis.
What are 3 Symptoms of E coli?
The following are some of the signs and symptoms of E. coli:
- Stomach cramps and pains.
- Watery to bloody diarrhea.
- Loss of appetite or nausea.
- Low fever 101 u00b0F/ 38.5 u00b0C (not everyone has this symptom).
How do I know if I have e coli or salmonella?
If you go to the doctor for food poisoning, they will test a sample of your stool to accurately diagnose the bacteria in your body.
What foods is E coli found in?
STEC is a foodborne disease that is spread to humans primarily through the consumption of contaminated foods like raw or undercooked ground meat products, raw milk, and contaminated raw vegetables and sprouts.
Can you get e coli from your own poop?
When you come into contact with the feces, or stool, of humans or animals, you can get an E. coli infection. This can happen when you drink contaminated water or eat contaminated food.
What happens if Ecoli is left untreated?
Damaged red blood cells muck up the kidneys’ filtering system, which can lead to life-threatening kidney failure. HUS affects about 5 to 10% of those with STEC and develops about seven days after E. coli toxins destroy red blood cells in a process called hemolysis.
Do I need to see a doctor for E coli?
The majority of people do not seek medical help for E. coli infections, but if your symptoms are particularly severe, you should see your primary care physician or seek immediate medical attention.
What is the best treatment for E coli?
Antibiotics, such as trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, nitrofurantoin, or a fluoroquinolone, are used to treat coli infections, which are usually bladder or other urinary tract infections. However, many bacteria, particularly those acquired in a health care facility, are resistant to some antibiotics.
How do you kill E coli naturally?
Garlic has long been recognized for its antibacterial and curative properties by cultures all over the world, and research has shown that garlic can be used to treat a variety of bacteria, including Salmonella and Escherichia coli ( E. coli ).
How long does E coli take to show symptoms?
The majority of people infected with E. coli O157 do not develop a fever or vomiting until 2 to 5 days after exposure to the bacteria.
How long are you contagious with E coli?
The time between exposure to E. coli and the onset of disease symptoms and signs (incubation period) can range from one to ten days, but it usually takes three to four days.
What should I do if I have e coli?
Drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, and watch for more severe symptoms that require a call to your doctor. If you have bloody diarrhea or a fever, consult your doctor before taking over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications.
How do you test for salmonella at home?
You simply test the water you used to wash your fruits and vegetables at home, or place a drop of milk on the test strip. “Yes, very quick,” Nilghaz said, compared to sending samples to a lab, which can take up to 24 hours to get a result.