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Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a facultative anaerobic gram negative bacteria that form one of the normal flora bacteria found in the human and animal gut. The bacteria have several strains some which are pathogenic but most of the strains are nonpathogenic in their normal environment (intestines). The strains that cause diarrhea are collectively termed as diarreagenic E. coli such as Shiga toxin-producing, Enterotoxigenic, Enteropathogenic, Enteroaggregative, Enteroinvasive and Diffusely adherent. The bacteria are also associated with conditions such as cholecystitis, bacteremia, cholangitis, pneumonia and urinary tract infections. The bacteria have a vital role in the intestines since is crucial for the production of Vitamin K and competitively preventing pathogenic bacteria infestation.
Human beings acquire the organism through ingesting of contaminated food or water or through poor contact with an infected person. One of the common epidemic effects of E. coli is the food poisoning. Food poisoning is caused by a strain of E.coli referred to as Shiga toxin producing E. coli that produce Shiga toxin. According to Center for Disease control and Prevention 2012 statistics, E. coli is the leading cause of urinary tract infection, especially in women. Pathogenic bacteria cause approximately 265,000 infections in America every year.
Shiga toxin producing bacteria has several strains depending with locality, for instance, E. coli 0104:H4 is common in Europe while E. coli 0157:H7 is common in North America. Signs and symptoms of infections caused by Shiga toxins poisoning E. coli bacteria include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and fever. The abdominal pain is characterized by cramping while diarrhea ensues a few hours after abdominal pain.
Prevention measures that should be instituted to prevent E. coli infections involve hygienic measures and proper cooking of food. Drinking water should be boiled before drinking while fruits and other raw foodstuffs should be thoroughly washed before for eating. The treatment involves supportive therapy such as adequate hydration, but antibiotics should not be used since they have minimal significance in the healing process.