E. Coli 0157:H7 (cont.)
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.
In this Article
- 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
Is there a test for E. coli?
The diagnosis of E. coli 0157:H7 infection begins with an accurate history, physical exam, and an analysis of a sample of stool from the patient. A presumptive diagnosis is frequently made if the patient has symptoms of bloody diarrhea and a history of being exposed to persons, foods or liquids known to be a source of an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak.
Because other disease-causing bacteria (for example, Shigella and Salmonella) can give patients similar initial symptoms, a definite diagnosis is based on culture of E. coli 0157:H7 from the patient's sample of stool on special culturing plates that then are tested with antiserum (antibodies) that react only with E. coli O157H7. Not all clinics or hospitals have the diagnostic antiserum, so the testing may take a few days.
Because of the high frequency of outbreaks of E. coli 0157:H7, the CDC in 2009 recommended that all patients being screened for community-acquired diarrheal infections have their stool samples analyzed with antisera for Shiga toxins, the toxins that are produced by E. coli 0157:H7 and a few other bacteria (for example, E. coli 0104:H4), in addition to having cultures of their stool. This approach may result in faster diagnosis of E. coli 0157:H7 infections. Urine samples can be tested, but E. coli 0157:H7 infrequently causes UTIs; its renal involvement is mainly due to toxins produced by the bacteria.
Blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC), and blood levels of electrolytes, platelets, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and creatinine (blood tests that measure function of the kidney) are performed periodically to look for the development of HUS or TTP.
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