What is E. coli?

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Burney, a small town in the US state of California, recently witnessed rising cases of E. coli, with many residents, mostly children and elderly, being hospitalised or requiring medical assistance.

About E. coli:


  • Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli, is a type of bacteria that can be found in the intestines of humans and animals.
  • E. coli is a rod-shaped bacterium of the Enterobacteriaceae family.
  • While most strains of E. coli are harmless and even beneficial, some strains can cause illness and infections.
  • Some kinds of E. coli can cause diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, and other illnesses.
  • Transmission: Pathogenic E. coli can be transmitted to humans through contaminated food, water, or contact with fecal matter from infected individuals or animals.
  • How does E. coli make you sick?
    • The most familiar strains of E. coli that make you sick do so by producing a toxin called Shiga.
    • This toxin damages the lining of your small intestine and causes diarrhea.
    • These strains of E. coli are also called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).
    • The STEC that is most well-known and most often referred to is E. coli O157:H7, or just E. coli O157.
  • Symptoms:
    • Symptoms of an E. coli infection can vary depending on the specific strain and severity of the infection.
    • Common symptoms include diarrhea (which may be bloody), abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, and sometimes fever.
    • In severe cases, E. coli infections can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition that can cause kidney failure and other complications, especially in young children and the elderly.
  • Treatment:
    • Most E. coli infections are self-limiting and resolve on their own without treatment. However, it's essential to stay hydrated during the course of the illness.
    • In severe cases or when complications arise, medical attention may be required.


Q1) What are Bacteria?

Bacteria are microscopic living organisms that have only one cell.Their control center, containing the genetic information, is contained in a single loop of DNA. Some bacteria have an extra circle of genetic material called a plasmid rather than a nucleus. Bacteria are classified into five groups according to their basic shapes: spherical (cocci), rod (bacilli), spiral (spirilla), comma (vibrios) or corkscrew (spirochaetes). They can exist as single cells, in pairs, chains or clusters.

Source: E. coli Outbreak in California’s Burney: How Serious Is the Situation in This Small US Town?