Background: Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli may cause serious extraintestinal complications, but there is no specific treatment.
Methods: Patients with diarrhea caused by diarrheagenic E. coli, specifically Shiga toxin-producing E. coli and E. coli-expressing intimin and enterohemorrhagic E. coli-hemolysin were treated by administration of pooled bovine colostrum, rich in antibodies to Shiga toxin and enterohemorrhagic E. coli-hemolysin, in a placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Symptom resolution and fecal excretion of infecting strains were assessed.
Results: No side effects were attributable to colostrum. Stool frequencies in the group treated with bovine colostrum were significantly reduced compared with those in the placebo group. No effect of therapy on the carriage of the pathogens or on complications of the infection could be demonstrated.
Conclusions: Bovine colostrum is well tolerated and diminishes frequency of loose stools in children with E. coli-associated diarrhea. A prospective study should be conducted among a larger number of children with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli identified early in illness, to determine the effectiveness of colostrum therapy.