Sunday, June 5, 2011

ABC of E. coli, the bacterium that scares the world

It is more common than you think and not always fatal. Strain that caused the alarm is more aggressive.

E. coli (short for Escherichia coli) bacteria is widespread in the world, housed in the intestines of humans and animals. There are many strains of this organism, but not all are as dangerous as the outbreak that occurred in Germany. The more aggressive strains can produce toxins that lead to diseases such as gastroenteritis, characterized by severe cramping and diarrhea. Their strains, including E. coli enterotoxigenic or ETEC, are mainly responsible for intestinal infections on the planet.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that only ETEC causes about 200 million cases of diarrhea each year in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

What kind of 'E. coli' is what caused the alert?

A very aggressive strain, and so far unknown, E. coli 0104:H4. Apparently resulted from a cross between varieties of this agent.

Why is it so dangerous?

Produces a toxin known as Shiga, which can cause serious diseases such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which may result in kidney failure and even death.

How is it spread?

Outbreaks such as occurred in Germany are produced when bacteria get into food for human consumption. Beef is often the main source of infection, and can be found in the udders of cows and get milk is not pasteurized. Raw vegetables that have been grown or washed in water contaminated with E. coli or come into contact with feces of infected animals (or natural fertilizers) can also be carriers of the bacteria. It can also be found in drinking water, lakes or swimming pools with sewage, and spread if people do not wash their hands after using the toilet.

Danger strain

May cause massive destruction of red blood cells, which causes hemoglobin is free in the bloodstream.

In passing through the kidneys producing top HUS. Those affected may suffer from chronic kidney damage and even death.

On symptoms

Infection occurred, the discomfort began in the first week, severe abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea lasting two to five days. May cause mild fever, nausea and vomiting. If you suspect this is the case, call immediately.

What is the risk?

According to the National Institute of Health and Invima, while not identifying the source of the outbreak in Europe can not take special measures to control the country other than the existing ones. However, since the 'E. coli' is transmitted by consuming food contaminated with it, take precautions.
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