What is E Coli infection? Causes Symptoms and Treatment

E coli infection

E Coli infection (Escherichia coli infection, Bacterial vaginosis, bacterial vaginitis)


What is E Coli infection and what kind of bacteria is E coli?

E Coli infection (коли-инфекция, эшерихиоз, عدوى بكتريا إي كولاي) is a bacterial infectious disease caused by infection with Escherichia coli, a pathogenic gram-negative anaerobic bacteria in the genus Escherichia.

How can a person get e coli?

Like other enteric bacterial infections E Coli infection is usually transmitted by ingesting contaminated food, water or fecal particles (per OS). Less commonly, E Coli infection can spread by indirect physical contact, such as touching a contaminated surface (soil), or by direct oral contact with contaminated surfaces, mainly through sexual contact (kissing, contact with oral secretions, or contact with body fluids).

E Coli infection can spread through sexual penetration, this includes the insertion of a body part or other object into the mouth, anus or vagina


How long does it take for a person to get E Coli infection?

The incubation period for E Coli infection ranges from 1-2 days. E Coli infection is characterized by an acute onset, symptoms usually start suddenly and progresses fast. In most cases, symptoms usually appear anywhere from a few hours to a few days after consuming contaminated particles. However, the person may be infectious even before symptoms start to show.

How long does it take to recover from an E coli infection?

If left untreated, the infection will continue to spread; however, patients with mild symptoms usually recover on their own without antibiotic treatment. In mild cases, signs and symptoms usually last 5 to 10 days. In severe cases, a 10-day treatment with a broad spectrum antibiotic is usually used to treat it.

E Coli infection starts when Escherichia coli penetrates the body via the mouth through ingestion of contaminated food, water or fecal particles.

What are the symptoms of E coli infection?

Symptoms rely on the amount of bactericides in the organism, the duration of contact, and the immunity of the host organism.

The disease starts as a normal intoxication with abdominal cramps, low grade fever, headaches, palpitations, and rebound abdomen, especially in the left lower quadrant. In most cases, the lower abdomen is swelled and rigid to palpation. Other symptoms include generalized weakness, and sweating.

Without prompt treatment, symptoms usually persist and may get worse, especially after a secondary exposure to bacteria (co/secondary bacterial infection) from ingestion of food contaminated with E coli bacteria, and/or if the initial dose of bactericides is big enough to cause a generalized intoxication.

The amount of E coli bacteria in the organism plays a key role in the severity of symptoms.

Characteristic manifestations of E Coli infection include nausea, vomiting, tenesmus, diarrhea 4-8 times daily, and darkened urine. In severe conditions, the patient may faint, especially if accompanied by an upper respiratory infection, such as pneumonia.

What are the symptoms of E coli Bacterial vaginosis?

E coli Bacterial vaginosis (E coli infection of the vagina) is characterized by an abnormal vaginal discharge that is colorless to yellowish with a foul smelling odor, if rubbed the discharge will remain unchanged. E coli bacterial vaginitis can be accompanied with urethritis or cystitis.


What causes e coli infection?

In most cases, E Coli infection is usually caused by drinking E coli polluted water or by ingestion of E coli contaminated food.

The pathogenesis of E coli Bacterial vaginosis arise mainly from an underlying E-coli infection of the digestive tract, where the bactericides move from the anus to the vagina by means of sexual contact (switching between anal and vaginal sex or visa versa). Moreover, E coli Bacterial vaginosis may develop during or after a urinary tract infection, such as urethritis or cystitis.


How can you treat E coli and what is the best antibiotic for E coli?

  1. Bedtime regimen
  2. Drinking a lot of water; however, volume replacement therapy (supportive therapy) is recommended for hypovolemic patients to replace intravascular fluid losses. Infusion solutions, such as lactated Ringer’s solution or saline are often used to maintain tissue perfusion
  3. Broad spectrum antibiotics, such as macrolides are used widely to fight enteric bacterial infections caused by Gram-negative pathogens. This infection is treated with erythromycin 500 mg PO every 6hrs for 14 days. Alternatively, amoxicillin 500 mg PO every 6hrs for 10 days can also be used to treat E coli infection. Augmentin is given for drug-resistant infections.

Other antibiotics which may be used to treat this infection include other semisynthetic penicillins, carbapenems (imipenem, meropenem, ertapenem, etc.), cephalosporins (cephalexin, cefazolin, cefepime, ceftriaxone, etc.), beta-lactam antibiotics (aztreonam), a combination of a sulfonamide antibiotic and a methoprim (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, TMP-SMZ), fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin, moxifloxacin, etc.), nitrofurans (nitrofurantoin) and other aminoglycosides, such as gentamicin, neomycin, amikacin and tobramycin.

Next steps Management

How to diagnose e coli infection?

  1. A precise history and genital examination
  2. Stool specimen is enough to identify the causative pathogen
  3. High Vaginal Swab (HVS) is a procedure often used to test for the presence of E coli bacterial vaginosis, in which a sample of vaginal discharge is obtained and sent for culture and sensitivity. The vaginal culture test can help your physician identify the cause of your condition and provide appropriate treatment.
  4. A complete blood count (CBC) is a gold standard test used to evaluate your health condition and detect whether the patient is suffering from a bacterial or viral infection





Verified by: Dr.Diab (December 12, 2017)

Citation: Dr.Diab. (December 12, 2017). What is E Coli infection? Causes Symptoms and Treatment. Medcoi Journal of Medicine, 10(2). urn:medcoi:article15774.

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