E Coli Bacteria Facts

Good bacteria do exist and even the dreaded E coli bacteria is not as bad as you might think, provided it is not a genetically mutated strand outside the body. Escherichia coli are found naturally occurring in the lower intestine. It gives off Vitamin K and helps you with digestion. Unfortunately, the bad press surrounding these bacteria is a result of the harmful bacteria strands that can make you very, very ill.

E Coli Bacteria Uses

From a scientific viewpoint, E coli bacteria are great to use to test for other contaminations. It is a bacterium that can live outside of its normal environment and is extremely easy to genetically manipulate. It can also grow under many different conditions and can even multiply exponentially if there is enough food to support the growth. Scientists use E coli bacteria to test for the presence of fecal matter which helps them locate potential problems with food.

A man specializing in Bacteriology discovered Escherichia coli in 1885. That man was Theodor Escherich. As you can see, the bacteria now bear his name. The problem with these bacteria is that the very thing that makes it appealing for study can also work against the human body. Since it can live in environments exceeding its normal 37 degree Celsius, it can grow in extreme conditions, which, in turn, make it hard to kill.

Types of E Coli Bacteria

There are five types of E coli bacteria:

  • Enterotoxigenic
  • Enteropathogenic
  • Enteroinvasive
  • Enterohaemorrhagic
  • Enteroaggregative

All of these strains can cause diarrhoea in humans, but it is the strain e coli 0157 h7, that can cause the most damage. It is responsible for severe food poisoning.

Escherichia coli can cause problems other than gastroenteritis. It is responsible for urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and neonatal meningitis. It is definitely not something to take lightly since any strain can cause you to be very sick.

There is hope though. Using antibiotics, E coli bacteria can be killed. The key is to continue taking the antibiotic for the full-prescribed amount. You can also avoid this harmful unicellular organism by handling food properly.

Most cross contaminations, occur when unwashed vegetables and meat are exposed to the bacterium after the slaughter. The world witnessed this cross contamination in 2006 when a batch of spinach was contaminated and made over 240 individuals very ill. Luckily, nobody died but it did wake people up to the dangers of e coli bacteria.

Page Updated: July 29, 2017
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