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Escherichia coli, Molecular Detection

Molecular testing for the detection of Escherichia coli is used for laboratory documentation of infections involving this particular microbe.

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Escherichia coli (E. coli) is one of the many species of microorganisms that live in the human gastrointestinal system, known as the normal intestinal flora (intestinal microbiome). It is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae. When in the large intestine, it helps with the processing of non-digestible ingredients, the production of vitamin K, and the absorption of nutrients. It was discovered in 1885 by a German pediatrician and bacteriologist, Theodor Escherich. The numbers accompanying Escherichia coli are enormous: the number of individual E. coli excreted in stool by one human in a single day ranges between 100 billion and 10 trillion.

Escherichia coli cannot form spores. Thus, actions that kill all active bacteria, such as pasteurization or even simple boiling, are effective in eliminating them without requiring a more stringent process to inactivate the spores.

As a result of their adaptation to the mammalian gut, Escherichia coli grows better in vivo or at higher temperatures, characteristic of such an environment, rather than at lower temperatures such as those found in soil and other environments.

Enteric E. coli is divided on the basis of certain infectious properties into:

  • Enterotoxigenic strains (ETEC - the causative agent of diarrhea in humans, pigs, sheep, goats, cattle, dogs, and horses)
  • Enteropathogenic strains (EPEC - the causative agent of diarrhea in humans, rabbits, dogs, cats, and horses)
  • Enteroinvasive strains (EIEC - found in humans only)
  • Verotoxigenic strains (VTEC - found in pigs, cattle, dogs, and cats)
  • Enterohemorrhagic strains (EHEC - found in humans, cattle, goats, and pigs)
  • Some other E. coli strains such as e.g. EAggEC - found only in humans



Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.

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