Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Enteritis Bacterial Underlying Cause

Bacterial gastroenteritis is caused by a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract. The inflammation disrupts normal absorption of food and water, resulting in diarrhea.

Bacteria that cause gastroenteritis include:

Toxigenic E. coli
Several types of E. coli bacteria that produce powerful toxins (chemicals) that can cause severe illness. Although E. coli is a normal intestinal bacteria, these bacteria have acquired (through evolution and the inter-species transfer of DNA) genes that allow them to produce dangerous toxins. Other toxigenic E. coli include: STEC, ETEC, and EHEC.

E. coli 0157:H7
E. coli 0157:H7 is a strain of E. coli bacteria that produces a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness. E. coli 0157:H7 is found in the intestines of healthy cattle, sheep, goats, and deer. Transmission to humans can occur when the stool of infected persons is passed from one person to another (if hygiene or hand washing habits are inadequate). Other routes of infection include: consumption of meat (particularly ground beef) that has not been cooked sufficiently to kill the bacteria and the consumption of contaminated sprouts, lettuce, or spinach. Drinking unpasteurized juice or milk can also transmit the bacteria. Some infections have developed after swimming in contaminated water.

Continue to Enteritis Bacterial Transmission

Last Updated: Dec 1, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Enteritis Bacterial References
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  4. Guerrant RL, Van Gilder T, Steiner TS, et al: Practice guidelines for the management of infectious diarrhea. Clin Infect Dis 2001 Feb 1; 32(3): 331-51. [11170940]
  5. Liebelt EL: Clinical and laboratory evaluation and management of children with vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Curr Opin Pediatr 1998 Oct; 10(5): 461-9. [9818241]
  6. Wong CS, Jelacic S, Habeeb RL: The risk of the hemolytic-uremic syndrome after antibiotic treatment of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections. N Engl J Med 2000 Jun 29; 342(26): 1930-6. [10874060]
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