Escherichia coli (also shortened to E.coli) is a Gram-negative bacterium, which looks like little a stick (bacillus) and usually comes in pairs or single. The bacterium normally lives in the large intestine but it is also frequently identified as a cause of different infections of the urinary tract (UTI, urinary tract infections), traveler’s diarrhea, cholecystitis, cholangitis as well as pneumonia and neonatal meningitis and many other infections.
Almost 50% of all female Americans experience UTI at least once and many times the cause of the problem is found to be E.coli. The same bacterium is responsible for about 12 to 50% of nosocomial infections and 4% of all cases of diarrhea diagnosed in the United States.
Some of infections caused by E.coli, such as neonatal meningitis, are very serious. This condition is fatal for 8% of diagnosed kids, while the survivors are at high risk for different developmental and neurological problems. Regarding the sexual preference, UTIs are more common among women than men because of the female anatomy. However, male babies and men older than 45 years of age also found to be prone to this condition.
Urinary Tract Infections
Among patients suffering from uncomplicated UTIs almost 90% will have uropathogenic strains of E.coli as the cause of their problem. E.coli often causes uncomplicated cystitis, urethritis, acute prostatitis, pyelonephritis, prostatis abscess as well as urosepsis. Sexually active women are susceptible to uncomplicated cystitis because the bacteria enter the bladder during sexual intercourse.
Elderly patients with structural abnormalities or obstruction of some parts of the urinary tract, as well as those with urinary catheters can develop complicated UTI or pyelonephritis. According to the statistics, 44% of all patients with E.coli related UTI will experience recurrent infection.
Enteric and Intra Abdominal Infections
Traveler’s diarrhea, Shigella-like dysentery, hemorrhagic colitis, hemolytic-uremic syndrome and persistent diarrhea in children are all known to be caused by different strains of E.coli.
Perforated appendix or diverticulum, some intra-abdominal abscesses, ascending cholangitis or cholecystitis may all lead to intra-abdominal infection with E.coli combined with other bacteria in some cases.
Pneumonia and Bacterial Meningitis
Respiratory infections caused by E.coli are very rare and usually appear in people with E.coli UTI. However, this can also be acquired condition in patients already suffering from diabetes, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and alcoholism.
Bacterial meningitis is usually seen in newborns. This condition may be fatal for some children, especially those born with low birth weight and positive cerebrospinal fluid culture result. Adults may also develop this condition, after some neurosurgical procedure or trauma and some brain infections.