Escherichia coli outbreaks
Harley, John P. Department of Environmental Medicine, New York University, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:March 2019
Show previous versions
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Occurrences of disease cases in excess of normal expectancy caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli. Outbreaks of disease resulting from Escherichia coli (E. coli) contamination have serious consequences. However, most strains of E. coli bacteria are commensals, that is, they are harmless to the humans and other animals that they colonize. Some E. coli strains, though, especially the serotype known as E. coli O157:H7 (Fig. 1), are common causes of foodborne disease outbreaks, leading to severe intestinal infections. (Note that a foodborne disease outbreak occurs when two or more cases of a similar illness result from the consumption of a common food.) Transmitted by ingestion of fecally contaminated food or water, pathogenic E. coli bacteria are responsible for large numbers of cases of diarrheal disease and other gastrointestinal ailments. For example, in the United States alone, E. coli O157:H7 causes tens of thousands of cases of disease per year, including thousands of hospitalizations and dozens of deaths annually. The bacterium also can cause hemorrhagic lesions in the intestines that lead to hemorrhagic colitis with severe abdominal pain and cramps followed by bloody diarrhea. In addition, the bacterium is a frequent cause of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), consisting of renal insufficiency, anemia, and thrombocytopenia (a low blood-platelet count) that can lead to the permanent need for kidney dialysis or even death. In particular, children younger than 5 years of age are most likely to contract HUS, which typically occurs around 2 weeks after infection. See also: Bacteria; Bacterial growth; Bacterial physiology and metabolism; Bacteriology; Diarrhea; Escherichia; Food microbiology; Food poisoning; Foodborne disease; Gastrointestinal tract disorders; Pathogen; Water-borne disease
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 45 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information