Mayo Clinic Minute: E. coli Fast Facts
E. Coli Symptoms
is best known as the microbe that can cause outbreaks of foodborne intestinal infections (i.e., food poisoning).
But pathogenicE. colican also be the cause of a number of other illnesses.
Naturally, the symptoms you may feel fromE. colidepend on what kind ofE. coliinfection you have.
E. coliInfections Outside the Intestines
E. coliis behind more than 85 percent of all urinary tract infections (UTIs), a 2012 report in the journalEmerging Infectious Diseasesnotes.
The infection occurs whenE. coli, which typically lives in the colon, enters the urinary system through the urethra.
Urinary tract infections don't always produce symptoms, but most people will get at least one symptom, including:
- Burning feeling during urination
- Intense urges to urinate
- Passing frequent but small amounts of urine
- Unusual-smelling, cloudy, or bloody urine
- Fever or chills
- Pain in the lower back, hips, or flanks
- Pelvic pain in women, rectal pain in men
A strain ofE. colicalled K1 causes about 20 percent of all cases of neonatal meningitis, according the Meningitis Research Foundation.
Newborns may become infected withE. coliK1 during birth, or from bacteria later acquired in the hospital or home.
If your baby has meningitis, it may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Breathing trouble
- Unusually cold or warm skin
- Fussy feeding
- Lethargy or inactivity
- Bulging soft spot at the top of the head (the fontanelle)
Streptococcus pneumoniaeis the most common bacterial perpetrator of pneumonia, butE. colican also sometimes cause the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The most common symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Shaking chills
- Cough with phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain from coughing or deep breathing
There are numerous types ofE. colithat can cause food poisoning, according to the American Academy of Microbiology.
EnterotoxigenicE. coliattaches to the intestine using hair-like appendages and attacks the body with toxins, which results in feverless diarrhea — these bacteria are often the cause of traveller's diarrhea.
EnteroinvasiveE. coli, on the other hand, invades the cells lining the colon, causing diarrhea and fever.
EnteropathogenicE. coli, a common cause of infantile diarrhea in developing countries, causes watery and sometimes bloody diarrhea after attaching to intestinal cells using a special protein.
And enteroaggregativeE. coliclumps onto the cells lining the intestine, then uses a toxin to cause prolonged diarrhea, particularly in children.
Shiga toxin-producingE. coli(STEC) is the type most commonly heard about on the news because of the outbreaks it causes. An intestinal infection by STEC — which typically lives in cattle and migrates to humans after animal feces contaminate human food — results in:
- Severe stomach cramps
- Diarrhea, which can be severe and bloody
- Vomiting (rare)
- Low-grade fever (rare)
People generally recover from STEC infections after about a week. But some individuals, particularly children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems, may develop complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening form of kidney failure.
Video: Infectious Diseases A-Z: E. coli 101
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