E Coli (Escherichia Coli)
Travel Health

From: Travel Health Information and Advice

E Coli (Escherichia Coli)
E Coli also known as Escherichia Coli are a group of bacteria that can be found in both animals and humans. The bacteria can either be harmless or cause a wide range of symptoms that range from mild diarrhoea to severe food poisoning, as well as other more harmful life threatening complications which can be fatal.

Symptoms of E Coli
The symptoms of E Coli vary depending on the strain that you have, in cases the infection is mild and usually resolves in about a week, however in more severe cases immediate medical attention should be sought as permanent damage or even death may occur, general symptoms can include:

Escherichia Coli Bacteria
Some strains of E Coli strains produce toxins known as Shiga Toxins, which damage the intestines and cause severe bleeding to occur. It is this form of bacteria which cause serious infection and complications such as renal failure.

Most at Risk from E Coli
The elderly, children and those with an already weakened immune system are at a higher risk of developing complications, although everyone is potentially at risk and if you suspect you may have E Coli then seek immediate medical attention as hospitalization may be required.

Complications of the infection include kidney damage, anaemia, renal failure, peritonitis, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and gastroenteritis.

Preventing E Coli
Many cases of contamination occur when the bacteria are ingested either by touching a contaminated surface or by eating or drinking contaminated fluids. Preventative measures can include:

Diagnosing E Coli
A stool sample is diagnosed to determine if the E Coli bacteria are present in your intestines.

Treatment for E Coli
There is no specific treatment other than closely monitoring symptoms, taking plenty of rest and remaining sufficiently hydrated to prevent further complications. Some strains of the bacteria are known to quickly become drug resistant and the use of antibiotics can be unsuccessful. The use of anti-diarrheal treatment will only delay the removal of the toxins and should therefore not be taken.