How E. coli infections wreak havoc on the body, causing dangerous disease — particularly in kids – CBC

Some strains cause severe disease, including in children, while spreading through the bloodstream

Sep 14, 2023

Escherichia coli, or E. coli, are a diverse group of bacteria. They typically thrive within the intestines of healthy animals. And, most of the time, they’re perfectly harmless.

But in some cases, certain strains are capable of causing severe disease, by rapidly spreading through the human digestive system, wreaking havoc throughout the bloodstream, and eventually damaging the delicate kidneys — leading to gruelling gastrointestinal symptoms, kidney failure and the potential for long-term health complications or death.

That’s the situation right now in Alberta, where a large E. coli outbreak linked to a shared kitchen in Calgary has sickened hundreds of daycare-aged children. There have been more than 300 lab-confirmed cases so far, and 21 patients remain in hospital. Twenty of those patients, all of them children, have a severe kidney disease known as hemolytic uremic syndrome.

So how did a common type of bacteria make this many children sick?

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