Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) Infection – Treatment And Prevention
Correct treatment of infections with E. coli involves different antibiotics that can kill the bacteria because sensitivity to antibiotics of many strains of E. coli varies greatly. Treatment should be aimed at the causative agent itself, the bacteria, and any complications caused by diarrhea (dehydration, for example).
If the patient will develop renal or hematologic complications (kidney failure or anemia), the treatment may include:
- Carefully adjusted fluid intake and essential minerals, so that the patients does not develop fluid and electrolyte imbalances
- Dialysis: the procedure that eliminates toxic byproducts from the blood. Dialysis is a therapeutic mean used in some patients with renal failure due to bacterial infections
- Blood transfusion, to balance anemia.
Antibiotics and resistance to treatment
Lately species of E. coli became resistant to treatment. In addition, their particular structure makes them resistant to antibiotics that can kill Gram-positive bacteria. In such circumstances, the choice of treatment can be quite difficult, and the number of available and effective antibiotics is reduced.
Currently E. coli is not resistant to:
Resistance to treatment is an issue of great importance. This is due to excessive administration and often without a solid base of antibiotic treatment. Thus, the bacteria came into contact with drugs and have developed mechanisms that make it resistant. These mechanisms are then transmitted to future generations because they are included in the genetic code of the bacteria. In addition, some bacteria have what is called “cross-resistance” are not only resistant to the antibiotic that came in last in contact, but also to similar antibiotics in terms of chemical structure.
Patients are not advised to administer antibiotics on their own. Often, bacterial strains that cause diarrhea are not very aggressive, and the illness resolves in 5 to 10 days. Through measures that avoid complications such as dehydration, the patient can be maintained in the best possible condition but if the diarrhea is mixed with blood, the patient has intense abdominal cramps, and his health significantly degrades day by day, antibiotic treatment is recommended. This is done according to the sensitivity, the nature of microbiological investigation from which the effective antibiotics are determined.
Drugs to avoid
The infection evolution can be worsen by taking certain drugs that may do more harm than good:
- Antidiarrheal durgs: in some cases diarrhea caused by E. coli is caused by bacteria toxins that are eliminated through the stools. If you stop or slow the intestinal transit, tou favor the accumulation of these toxins with adverse effects on the entire body. As more toxins remain in the intestine, the more time the body has more to absorb them, complications occurring much faster and more serious.
- Loperamide: a antidiarrheal durg that works by reducing the longitudinal intestinal muscle tone, increaseing the circular muscle tone but eventually it increases the time food spends in the intesine and allowing absorbtion of water and other substances.
- Product containing salicylates, bismuth: ibuprofen, aspirin and other NSAIDs because these drugs can promote gastrointestinal bleeding.
Such drugs should not be given to patients with diarrhea caused by E. coli .
If there is a unconfirmed suspicion of infection with E. coli, until the beginning of treatment the following should be also avoided:
- Difenoxid hydrochloride with atropine sulfate
- Imodium hydrochloride.
Recommendations for home treatment mainly refers to measures that can increase the patient’s personal comfort and prevent infection of others. If there is a relative infected you must try to protect yourself from contacting the infection. If you have diarrhea that lasts more than 48 hours it would be best to address a doctor to avoid complications such as dehydration.
Management of diarrhea with antidiarrheal durgs available in pharmacies (which may be issued without a prescription) is prohibited, as some can do more harm than well. In certain situations, when diarrhea is toxic, drugs that reduce the removal of toxins from the body situation which can complicate the disease, sometimes leading to fatal consequences.
During home treatment of diarrhea induced by infection with E. coli experts recommend:
- Do not manage diarrhea without the aid of a doctor , especially if you have bloody diarrhea or watery diarrhea but persistent in time
- Try to drink from time to time throughout the day, rehydration is very important. This can replace some of the ions lost in diarrheal stools.
- Rehydration is especially important as the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting. Because dehydration can develop rapidly in infants and has serious consequences, they should immediately be submitted to a receiving emergency department to be rehydrated and treated appropriately. For adults, it is recommended to use small volumes of liquid because the stomach can not cope with larger volumes.
Patients are advised to pay great attention to early signs of dehydration such as:
- Dry mucous membranes
- Reducied tears volume
- Reduced diuresis (rare urination, small volume of urine, altered appearance – brown color);
- Feeling dizzy, faintness
Status of patients at extreme ages (young children or people over 65) can degrade very quickly. In such situations, alarm symptoms should be checked and whose presence must be immediately investigated such as: elevated fever, weakness, generalized pallor, reduced urine output. They can signal the occurrence of renal or hematologic complications.
How to protect ourselves from possible infection
In order to avoid infection with E. coli from contaminated food or water
- Tips for food preparation. Meat, especially beef, should be cooked at temperatures of at least 70 degrees. For guidance, meat should be cooked until it loses its reddish color (but good minutes after that). The best thing would be if you can check the temperature with a thermometer for meat (specially designed for these purposes, which is found in appliances districts). You can make an incision in the the middle to ensure it is well cooked. Meat juice that is left on the plate should be white or yellow at most, never red or pink. Due to the infection possibility, not only bacterial but parasitic also, not cooked enough meat (bloody) is not recommended for consumption.
- When you get ready to cook. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially if you handled raw meat. The tools that you use (knives, caps chopped, grinders, pans, pots) must also be washed before and after will be used. Do not plance the cooked meat on a plate where raw meat was, if this plate was not washed and dried. Meat should be cut on a separate cover, and vegetables on another, to reduce the risk of contamination. In the refrigerator, it is best to keep meat, seafood and fish separate from fruits and vegetables
- Drink only pasteurized milk and juices
- Drink only properly chlorinated water from trusted sources
- Do not drink water from sources that are not sure. Such advice is useful if you travel in underdeveloped countries where water is rare and treatment systems are unapropiate. All water that is consumed in these countries must be boiled or bottled \. Fruits and vegetables should be avoided (even if you wash with water). You can consume fruits only if they peel.
How to avoid direct transmission of E. coli infection
- Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet or changing baby diapers (when you came in contact with E. coli from faeces). If you have more toilets at home and a family member wasdiagnosed with E. coli infection, the safest would be to that the infected person uses one toilet so as the spread of infection is avoided.
- If the infection was diagnosed in an infant, you should only use disposable diapers, you throw them away immediately after changing them
- Adults must be careful that children with diarrhea wash their hands properly after each stool. They should avoid the use of shared towels, not go to the pool, until the disease is cured, avoid nurseries, kindergartens or schools and places where the children can come into contact with other children
- Sink taps and toilets must be cleaned regularly with antibacterial substances
- Patients who were diagnosed with E. coli infection should not handle food, meat, do not work in nurseries or other care institutions until they heal (and tests indicate that not eliminate the bacteria);
- Water properly chlorinated swimming pool was planned, and tubs should be cleaned with antibacterial substances.