E. coli 0157:H7 belongs to Gram-negative bacteria and is a major culprit of bloody diarrhea. The reason why people who have been infected with this strain of E. coli develop blood diarrhea is because of the toxin present inside and secreted by the bacterium.
Infection Caused by E. coli 0157:H7
E. coli 0157:H7 is actually quite a notorious microorganism capable of causing many severe health problems, particularly in children and elderly individuals, all those whose immune system is not functioning properly. In children, the bacterium most commonly leads to complications such as renal failure, anemia, and dehydration. In elderly, on the other hand, E. coli 0157:H7 infection is blamed for spontaneous bleeding, different organ failure as well as mental changes. Under certain circumstances patients may even end up with severe disability or even die.
Confirmation of the infection and the pathogen that has led to it is achieved by bacterial isolation from the patient's stool. Immunologic tests confirm the bacterium and its serotype.
Even though in the majority of cases infection caused by E. coli 0157:H7 actually resolves on its own, patients who have developed dehydration, anemic individuals as well as others with different complications require proper care and treatment. Some of them are even hospitalized.
In order to prevent infection caused by E. coli 0157:H7 people are advised to consume only cooked food. By drinking treated and pasteurized fluids one may additionally prevent potential infection. There is no other efficient way of prevention. Vaccine against this bacterium has not been invented yet.
More about E. coli 0157:H7
E. coli 0157:H7 is a member of EEC, or enterohemorrhagic E. coli. According to research, the one needs to ingest only a small number of E. coli 0157:H7 in order to develop infection. This drives to conclusion that these bacteria are highly infectious.
All the symptoms and signs of the infection develop as a consequence of two Shiga toxins, Stx 1 and Stx 2. They are also known as Vero toxins. The bacterium produces these toxins, releases them and they then cause damage to different human cells. For instance, toxins are highly potent and may easily damage intestinal cells or even erythrocytes resulting in anemia. Platelets and kidney cells may be also affected by the two toxins.
The bacterium is considered a significant health issue in the Unites States where it is associated with more than 70,000 new cases of infection each year. Because the most common way of transmission is via contaminated food, measures of precaution are strict and must be efficient enough to prevent food contamination and further spread of infective agents.