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Foodborne E. Coli Suspected in Urinary Tract Infections
Date:12/16/2009

Experts caution, though, that no direct link has been found,,

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- E. coli bacteria in food -- commonly linked to food poisoning and the stomach pain and diarrhea that result -- might also be the cause of some urinary tract infections.

Researchers have found the same strains of the bacteria in chicken from stores and restaurants and in women with the infections.

There's no evidence that the germs were transmitted directly to the women through the food they ate, although that's possible. Still, the findings are the first to suggest a possible link between the food supply and urinary tract infections, said Amee R. Manges, an assistant professor at McGill University in Montreal and lead author of a report on the discovery. It is published in the January issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

"This may be happening more frequently then we expected," Manges said. In addition, she said, the transmission through food could boost the number of urinary tract infections that are resistant to drugs.

Though most strains are harmless, dangerous strains of E. coli germs can be transmitted through food that was contaminated in the field or was not properly handled or cooked, causing problems in the intestinal system. It's less known that the germs can also spread to the urinary tract in women and men.

In women, that can happen during sex, Manges said. "It's possible for bacteria to travel from the anus to the vagina and urethra, and that's where it ultimately causes the infection," she said.

Urinary tract infections caused by transmission from feces "are most common in older and debilitated individuals in whom the risk of fecal contamination of the urethral orifice is a significant risk, especially in a setting of fecal incontinence," added Dr. Pascal James Imperato, dean of the School of Public Health at the State University of New York Downstate Medical
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