Escherichia coli

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Escherichia coli

Escherichia coli (ĕshˌərĭkˈēə kōˈlī), common bacterium that normally inhabits the intestinal tracts of humans and animals, but can cause infection in other parts of the body, especially the urinary tract. It is the most common member of the genus Escherichia, named for Theodor Escherich, a German physician. E. coli is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium propelled by long, rapidly rotating flagella. It is part of the normal flora of the mouth and gut and helps protect the intestinal tract from bacterial infection, aids in digestion, and produces small amounts of vitamins B12 and K. The bacterium, which is also found in soil and water, is widely used in laboratory research and is said to be the most thoroughly studied life form. In genetic engineering it is the microorganism preferred for use as a host for the gene-splicing techniques used to clone genes.

E. Coli Food Poisoning

In 1982 a particularly toxic strain of E. coli, E. coli 0157:H7, was identified; it produces a toxin (Shiga toxin) that damages cells that line the intestines. The same strain was responsible for a 1993 outbreak of food poisoning in Washington state, which sickened 500 people and killed three, and a series of outbreaks in 1996 in Japan, which sickened some 10,000 and killed 12. A rarer and more virulent Shiga-toxin-producing strain, E. coli O104:H4, was the cause of the 2011 outbreak centered on N Germany that sickened more than 4,000 people from more than a dozen countries and killed 50.

Food-poisoning outbreaks due to Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) are typically the result of transmission via raw or undercooked ground meat (thought to become contaminated during slaughter or processing) or contaminated salad ingredients. The strains can potentially contaminate any food. STEC infections can also occur through other means, such as contact with infected persons or cattle, or consumption of or contact with contaminated water.

Symptoms, which begin 1 to 8 days after infection and last for about a week, include bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and in some cases, fever. The most serious complication is a hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) that can lead to kidney failure and death, especially in children. The 2011 infection, for example, led to HUS in some 900 people. There is no treatment other than supportive care. Practical preventive measures include thorough cooking of meat and careful hygiene around infected individuals.

A rapid rise in the number of cases of illness caused by STEC strains has prompted calls for a reevaluation of food inspection techniques in the United States. Irradiation of meat and some greens is now approved by the FDA as a means to destroy such bacteria.

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Escherichia coli

[‚esh·ə′rik·ē·ə ′kō‚lī]
The type species of the genus, occurring as part of the normal intestinal flora in vertebrates. Also known as colon bacillus.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Ways E-coli can be spread include when farmworkers do not wash their hands before handling vegetables, or farm machines that have leftover manure on them.
Key words: Urinary tract infection, Aloevera Gel, E-coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The study showed that 97 per cent of the samples contained unidentified bacteria, while 63 per cent contained shigella, 30 per cent had E-coli and 10 per cent had salmonella.
E-Coli virus in France was linked to the one in Germany, but tests are ongoing.
It is not known how many growers in Wales were affected, but farmers in west Lancashire saw orders drop by 75% in the week following the European E-coli outbreak.
As far as other vegetables are concerned, importers have to produce safety certificates, which specify that they are free from e-coli bacteria and other related health hazards.
The World Health Organisation reported an updated total of 2,086 cases of E-coli in Germany and 722 cases of the serious complication known as HUS.
The World Health Organisation have reported a total of 2,086 cases of E-coli in Germany and 722 cases of the serious complication known as HUS, with 26 fatalities.
Hydromax is a stabilised solution of Sodium Chlorite which can be used in irrigation and process/wash water to reduce this contamination, including E-coli. It has been developed as a highly effective decontaminant and processing aid, it is safe to use and does not carry over into the food chain.
Shadow Public Health Minister Diane Abbott slammed the Coalition for the decline in standards which, she claimed, was increasing the risks of food poisoning and lethal e-coli outbreaks.
HOSPITAL bosses have admitted "we could have done better" when treating a toddler who died after catching an E-coli bug.