Escherichia coli O157: what every internist and gastroenterologist should know

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2009 Aug;11(4):301-6. doi: 10.1007/s11894-009-0044-0.


Infections with Escherichia coli O157:H7 have gained media attention in recent years because of cases associated with unusual sources (eg, produce and swimming pools). Although most adults recover without sequelae, children and the elderly are more likely to develop complications (eg, hemolytic uremic syndrome and death). The diagnosis typically has been made by culture; however, newer hand-held immunoassays and polymerase chain reaction technology have led to more rapid detection of this important pathogen in stools, food, and water. Treatment is largely supportive; nonetheless, new methods to neutralize or bind toxin, such as probiotics, monoclonal antibodies, and recombinant bacteria, are showing promise to treat patients infected with E. coli O157:H7. The role of antibiotics in relation to this condition remains unclear.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli Infections / diagnosis*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / therapy*
  • Escherichia coli O157 / pathogenicity*
  • Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome / microbiology
  • Humans