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Everything you need to know about escherichia coli 026 infections

There is an increasing worldwide awareness of the dangers of infectious agents and the illnesses they may cause. Both humans and animals can be at risk. The young, the old, and immune-compromised individuals are often at the most risk. Infections can seemingly appear out of nowhere, unexpectedly and spread rapidly. It can be hard to know the underlying cause of a given illness. The identity of the causal pathogen may initially be unknown and difficult to determine.

For example, it's well-known that Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria normally live in the intestines of humans and other animals. Most E. coli are harmless and even beneficial or essential for maintaining a healthy intestinal tract. However, some E. coli strains are pathogenic and may cause illness or even death.

Infectious Agents Still A Danger in Today's World

A common symptom of a pathogenic E. coli infection is diarrhea, but E. coli illness may also first present outside of the intestinal tract. Furthermore, one may have diarrhea in the absence of an E.coli infection as there are many causes of diarrhea. Diarrhea in and of itself is just a symptom. Often causal factors are determined only when diarrhea persists and doesn't go away on its own. This means that valuable time can go by between onset of symptoms and identification of causal factors, potentially allowing the infection to get worse or spread to others. E. coli strains that cause diarrhea can be transmitted through contaminated food or water, or through contact with people or animals who harbor the bacteria.

E. coli are a diverse group of bacteria, and pathogenic strains are categorized into pathotypes. Pathotypes associated with diarrhea are referred to diarrheagenic E. coli. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) is the pathotype most commonly heard about in the news and social media in association with foodborne outbreaks of E. coli infections. STEC is also referred to as enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) and verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC).

For example, STEC 026 was the E. coli strain responsible for the Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant multistate outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, also known as food poisoning, in 2015. Chipotle is a popular "fast-food" restaurant in the United States that prides itself on serving food fast, without the typical fast-food experience which often relies on heavily processed food. Chipotle's commitment to "food with integrity," means serving food with local, sustainably produced and often organic beans and vegetables as well as meat from naturally-raised rather than factory farm animals. The epidemiologic evidence amassed during the investigations suggested that a common ingredient or menu item served at Chipotle restaurants was likely a causal source of the STEC 026 outbreaks.

However as of March 2016, the root cause of the STEC 026 outbreak - the specific food or ingredient - had not been identified, underscoring the complexity and challenge of managing E. coli infections. Washing fruits and vegetables, and your hands as well as cleaning surfaces exposed to raw meat are among the tips for helping to prevent E. coli infections.

In our fast paced world and worldwide economy, infectious agents and illnesses can spread very quickly and end up outside of their source locations. Despite all of our modern technology, disease can actually spread more rapidly than ever before. Scientific researchers all over the world are stepping up to the plate to develop tools and technologies to understand the basic underlying mechanisms of infectious agents and their disease causing processes.

MyBioSource is a research reagents company developing leading-edge tools and technologies for studying STEC and other infectious agents. Products for studying STEC include recombinant proteins, monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies, and real-time PCR kits:

  • Everything you need to know about escherichia coli 026 infections
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