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when i was at university, E.coli was a lovely safe bacterium. now it has become a nasty. can someone explain this tome please

(12 Posts)
stitchtime Mon 14-Sep-09 11:01:21

how? its present in pooh. always has been. we used it for experiments precicisly for his reason. it was just part of normal life. you just had to make sure you washed your hands after you went to toilet, and of course in labs.
now, it has become the new black plague. how? why?
i really dont understand the science behind this. does anyone who knows anything about this, can they explain t o me please.

from what i remember, e.coli is fine as long as doesnt get in the brain blood barrier, whichit wont do, in normal course of things, handwashing etc perfectly good enough, coz is normally present in our own poo. we dont need to go anywhere else to access it.

nightcat Mon 14-Sep-09 13:16:32

that's how I understand (I am non-medical), that there are now a lot more people with weakened immune system and conditions like leaky gut. Also, I think even if you have a small cut, the bugs can get inside.

singersgirl Mon 14-Sep-09 13:24:08

Aren't there lots of strains of e.coli, and only a few are harmful?

BertieBotts Mon 14-Sep-09 13:25:49

I suspect it's just a ploy from dettol etc to make us buy antibacterial sprays, handwashes, etc. <cynical>

TrillianAstra Mon 14-Sep-09 13:28:49

Singersgirl hs it - there are lots of strains, some live happily in your gut, well actually all of them are hapy to live in your gut, but some of them make you less happy if they do so.

I could talk about plasmids but I'm not sure I can be bothered.

latestincarnation Mon 14-Sep-09 13:29:38

E.coli has a number of different strain - E157 is dangerous because it causes such severe diarrhoea that it can kill young/immunosuppressed people. It is rare, but a zoonotic threat from farm animals (and other people)


PacificDogwood Mon 14-Sep-09 13:32:33

Wike has the anser

E.coli 0157 is the strain that can cause kidney and other organ failure. "Normal" E.coli is most common cause in most places (in the UK) for simple urine infections/cystitis and is relatively harmless.

Do wash hands and cook your meat properly <<stern>>

PortAndLemon Mon 14-Sep-09 13:32:42

Most strains are harmless; some (like O157:H7, which is the one there's most fuss about in the UK at the moment) are dangerous. O157:H7 itself only emerged in the early-mid 1980s, but there have always been some dangerous stains AFAIK.

stitchtime Mon 14-Sep-09 13:59:23

thank you

trillian plasmids come through viruses? e coli bacteria?

Hollyoaks Mon 14-Sep-09 14:03:12

Plasmids are from bacteria, they're circular pieces of DNA that can be past from one bacteria to another.

TrillianAstra Mon 14-Sep-09 14:07:11

Plasmids are extra bit of DNA that bacteria can have and can pass from one to another. They make them (or allow them to) behave in different ways, such as breaking down a new source of food or being resistant to antibiotics. They can pass between different strains and even different species of bacteria.

arolf Mon 14-Sep-09 14:13:47

The strains you used at university would (hopefully!) not have been pathogenic ones. Pathogenic strains occasionally get into a food supply, and then there will be an outbreak. 'O:H:K' refer to variations in certain genes/proteins, and this particular variation (O157:H7) is highly pathogenic, and can cause very nasty kidney problems, particulary in the very young and very old.

It hasn't so much become the new black death, more that the media has to fill 24 hours a day with news, hence there is a lot of stuff reported now which would not have been reported 20 years ago - it's more to do with the amount of news coverage than anything to do with actual prevalence (so far as I am aware).

Plasmids are, as hollyoaks says, circular DNA which can be transmitted between bacteria, and then encode 'foreign' genes - they are used a lot in molecular biology, for example, for expressing insulin in bacteria.

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