E. coli 0157:H7 Infection Early Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
- E. coli definition and facts
- What are E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria?
- 25 early and late symptoms of E. coli 0157:H7 infection
- How do people get E. coli 0157:H7 infections?
- What causes E. coli infection?
- Is E. coli 0157:H7 contagious?
- Is there a test for E. coli?
- What is the treatment for E. coli 0157:H7?
- How can I prevent from getting E. coli?
- What are the complications of infection with E. coli 0157:H7?
- What kind of doctor(s) treat E. coli 0157:H7 infections?
- Other enterohemorrhagic E. coli strains (for example, 0145, 026:H11, 0104:H4 and 0121)
- Summer Food Safety FAQs
E. coli definition and facts
- Serotype E. coli 0157:H7 is a bacterium that can produce bloody diarrhea due to toxins, especially Shiga (Vero) toxin that it produces, the toxin is secreted when the bacterium infects the human intestine.
- Other E. coli serotypes like 0145 or 0104:H4 can act like 0157:H7 if they acquire the ability to produce Shiga (Vero) toxin.
- Some of the early symptoms of E. coli 0157:H7 infection may include fever, nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea
- Some of the later symptoms of E. coli infection are nosebleeds, shortness of breath, seizures, and excessive bleeding.
- E. coli infection is contagious and can be spread from person to person by fecal contamination.
- E. coli 0157:H7 is notorious because it can cause additional complications in children and the elderly; renal failure, anemia, and dehydration especially for children (termed HUS or hemolytic uremic syndrome) and spontaneous bleeding, organ failure, and mental changes in the elderly (termed TTP or thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura). Some of these patients develop permanent disabilities or die.
- E. coli 0157:H7 infections that produce late and/or severe symptoms may require a team of specialists to treat the patient
- Diagnosis is definitively made when E. coli 0157:H7 is isolated, usually from the patient's stool, and identified as serotype 0157 with immunologic tests.
- Most E. coli 0157:H7 infections resolve spontaneously and require no treatment. However supportive treatment is required quickly required if the patient becomes dehydrated, anemic, or develops HUS or TTP.
- The majority of E. coli 0157:H7 infections have excellent outcomes. If complications develop such as severe dehydration, anemia, HUS or TTP, the outcomes can decline from good to poor quickly.
- Infection with E. coli 0157:H7 usually comes from eating contaminated food. Prevention of infection consists of eating well cooked foods, especially hamburger, and drinking treated or pasteurized fluids. Avoiding touching or eating any food that may be contaminated with any animal or human waste will help prevent the infection.
- There is no E. coli 0157:H7 vaccine available for humans.
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