E. Coli Learning Center

Escherichia coli, generally referred to as E. coli, are a group of bacteria that are a common cause of food borne illnesses. When food that contains E. coli is digested, several uncomfortable symptoms can arise, including bloody diarrhea. Most forms of E. coli can come from undercooked ground beef, contaminated water, unpasteurized milk, or from working directly with cattle. Symptoms of this infection typically start seven days after one is infected with the bacteria. First signs of an E. coli infection are severe abdominal cramping, with an onset of watery diarrhea. The infection can cause blood diarrhea that can last two to five days. The bacterium thrives in the intestines, resulting in sores.

There are several complications that can develop from an E. coli infection. The most common complication is hemolytic uremic syndrome. Individuals who develop hemolytic uremic syndrome get hemolytic anemia (low red blood count), thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), and renal failure (kidney damage). E. coli can be diagnosed through a stool culture to determine if the bacteria are in the intestines. There is no recommended treatment for E. coli infections. Doctors recommend drinking plenty of water. If severe dehydration occurs, a hospital IV may need to administer fluids. It’s important that you avoid taking any medications to stop diarrhea during this time, as this can prevent the bacteria from leaving your intestines.

To find out more about E. coli, follow the references found below:

E. Coli Information

E. Coli Information for Kids

  • Kids Health: Children can learn about types of good and bad bacteria, as well as information on E. coli and its symptoms.
  • Scrub Club: Learn about the villains that can harm us, including germs such as E. coli.
  • Controlling Infection on Farms: The Farming and Countryside Education website provides an E. coli information sheet.
  • History for Kids: Find science information on the bacteria, E. coli, directed towards middle school kids.
  • Science News for Kids: General information and projects on various types of viruses, including E. coli.
  • Fight Bac: Find statistics of E. Coli, a type of food borne illness that commonly occurs in certain types of food.
  • Food Safety Facts: List of tips on how to keep food safe from bacteria, such as in the case of E. coli and similar germs.
  • United States Department of Agriculture: Find games and activities to teach about food safety.

E. Coli Materials for Educators

E. Coli Indexes, Databases, and Journals

  • Coli Base: Here you will find an online database for various types of bacteria, including Escherichia coli, or E. coli.
  • ECCE: The E. coli Cell Envelope Protein Data Collection provides resources, such as a list of 452 signal sequences of E. coli envelope proteins.
  • Public Health: Information on E. coli from the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
  • E. Coli Treatment: Learn how veterinary researchers use antibiotics to fight illnesses caused by E. coli.
  • Journal of Bacteriology: Here you will find a journal article on Escherichia coli and its impact on dieting.
  • Infection and Immunity: Find issues of scientific journals surrounding E. coli and its immunity.

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