There is a great lack of knowledge in the general population related to E. coli bacteria.
We will try to give some explanations in plain language and clear up some uncertainties, myths and truth about this widespread bacterium.
E. coli, professionally known as Escherichia coli (named after Theodor Escherich), has several species and subspecies.
One of these species is usually found and resides in the lower abdomen of warm-blooded animals, . Most types of E. coli are harmless and can even be useful. However some species such as O157: H7 or O111: B4 (recently found in America in the whole fields of spinach) are extremely harmful and can lead to complications and even death.
Useful types of E. coli that normally live in our digestive tract, produce vitamn K and protect the stomach from other more dangerous bacteria.
All types of Escherichia coli bacteria are specific to the environment in which they have developed and can be easily classified by the laboratory. Therefore, it is relatively easy to determine whether the infection came from animals, humans or birds. For example, if the cause of outbreaks of infection are due to contaminated water from wells, we can establish whether the water is contaminated by human, animal or bird feces.
Some types of E. coli can mutate while within an organism, becoming harmful to the organism. In healthy individuals, this mutation generally causes diarrhea and eventually disappears without medication.
157: H7 and O111: B4 can cause greater consequences, even death in elderly people and children with weak immune systems.
Normally E. coli will settle in the digestive tract of newborn babies within 40 to 45 hours after birth, through water, food, or people in contact with the baby.
This is the natural process of getting useful Escherichia into our bodies, that is, if the E. coli does not mutate to become a harmful species.
In abnormal circumstances, so to speak, E. coli can cause infections in the urinary and digestive tracts, and can cause inflammation of the meninges (meningitis). In rare cases, E. coli may cause other diseases such as pneumonia and septic disease.