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Study Reveals E.Coli's Grip on Gut
Date:10/18/2007

Finding might aid illness prevention, treatment, researchers say

THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. scientists have discovered how a potentially deadly form of E. coli bacteria adheres to and colonizes the gut.

Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7A, or E. coli, is a common cause of food poisoning.

The authors of the study hope the breakthrough will one day help with disease prevention strategies. But others say breakthroughs like that are still far off.

"The study was conducted in vitro, not in an animal model, human or otherwise," noted Dr. Pascal James Imperato, distinguished service professor and chair of the department of preventive medicine and community health at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in New York City. "Whether this in vitro result is reflective of what happens in vivo [in the gut] remains to be demonstrated."

There are several strains of E. coli and one in particular, E. Coli 0157:H7, can be deadly.

Human infections most often result from eating uncooked ground beef, because cattle carry the pathogen in their intestines without getting sick. E. coli can also be acquired from consuming contaminated dairy products, vegetables, unpasteurized juice, through person-to-person contact and through either swimming in or drinking water contaminated with sewage.

Infection with E. coli 0157:H7 can result in abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea and, less commonly, a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is characterized by anemia and kidney failure and can end in death.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 73,000 infections and 61 deaths are attributable to E. coli 0157:H7 each year. The very young and the very old are particularly prone to developing life-threatening HUS.

For this study, the researchers at the University of Arizona, Tucson, found that several proteins
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