Most cases of Escherichia coli infection are foodborne.
Enterotoxigenic E coli (ETEC) is the most common cause of traveller's diarrhoea.
Diagnosis is made based on stool culture, with serotyping for greater specificity.
Treatment is supportive, with rehydration and correction of electrolyte imbalance.
Use of antibiotics is controversial and in most cases not necessary, except possibly in traveller's diarrhoea.
Ten percent of patients with E coli O157:H7 infection develop haemolytic uraemic syndrome.
Escherichia coli is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium. It is a commensal that colonises the gastrointestinal tract within a few hours of birth. E coli becomes pathogenic by acquiring virulence factors or genetic mutations, leading to a broad spectrum of disease. Infection by pathogenic strains occurs through ingestion, usually via contaminated food or water.
Specialist Registrar in Gastroenterology
St Mary's Hospital
AK declares that she has no competing interests.
Department of Gastroenterology
John Radcliffe Hospital
SK declares that he has no competing interests.
St George’s Hospital
AP declares that he has no competing interests.
Research Fellow and Medical Microbiologist
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Department of Microbiology
FC declares that she has no competing interests.
Voluntary Assistant Professor of Medicine
Digestive Health & Nutrition Center of Ashland
HEM declares that he has no competing interests.
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