Coliform bacteria refers to a group of bacteria that reside in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and warm-blooded animals, which is why, these bacteria are present in their fecal matter as well. These are also found in soil, and could contaminate the water supplies. The species of bacteria that are found in the soil and water are referred to as total coliforms, while the ones that are found in the feces are referred to as fecal coliforms. Though most of the species of bacteria that are grouped under the total coliforms are not considered to be harmful, Escherichia coli is one such strain that is known for causing gastrointestinal ailments. Another fecal coliform bacteria called Klebsiella pneumoniae also figures in the list of causal organisms for gastrointestinal problems. Given below is some information on the symptoms of coliform infection along with the treatment options.
Coliform Infection: Symptoms
The total coliforms are viewed as indicators of water quality, as presence of these bacteria is indicative of microbial pollution of the water source. Coliform index is a test that is used for detecting the presence of coliform bacteria in water. If the test reveals the presence of these bacteria, there is a great likelihood of other pathogenic organisms being present in water as well. As mentioned earlier, most of the strains of coliform bacteria are not associated with serious ailments. However, a strain of E. coli is known to cause gastroenteritis. Ingestion of water, meat, poultry or other food items that are contaminated with O157:H7 strain of E. coli may give rise to inflammation of the digestive tract. People with a compromised immune system are definitely at a greater risk of developing such bacterial infections.
The characteristic signs of this bacterial intestinal infection include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. Excessive gas, bloating, loss of appetite and malaise are some of the other common symptoms of this infection. Since the infected individual loses a lot of body fluids due to diarrhea and vomiting, one is at a great risk of getting dehydrated. Under such circumstances, one must drink lots of water or fluids so as to compensate for the loss of fluids. Those who don't rehydrate themselves are most likely to experience lightheadedness. One may even feel disoriented due to loss of body fluids. Bouts of diarrhea and vomiting that cause severe dehydration could even cause muscle aches, headaches or an increased heart rate. If one drinks water that is contaminated with certain strains of fecal coliform bacteria, one could even catch a urinary tract infection.
Coliform Infection: Prevention and Treatment
First of all, preventive steps must be taken to remove the possible sources of contamination. If the water source seems to have been contaminated, one must avoid drinking water until it has been purified. One must also install a good quality water purification system, that would be able to get rid of the pathogens or impurities. The infection could even be food-borne. Certain food items that have not been cooked or stored properly, may get contaminated with coliform bacteria. Thus, there's a great need to ensure that food is cooked and stored in the right manner. Since these bacteria are found in the feces, one must also maintain personal hygiene, and wash hands with an anti-bacterial hand wash after defecating. If one does develop an infection, the treatment would involve the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are a class of drugs that are used to kill bacteria and prevent them from growing any further. However, there are times, when strains of bacteria develop resistance to certain antibiotics. Usually, doctors recommend the use of antibiotics such as amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin and carbapenems for the treatment of infections caused by strains of this coliform bacteria. Those who suffer from gastroenteritis due to this bacterial infection, would also need to drink oral rehydration solution in order to make up for the loss of fluids caused by diarrhea and vomiting.
This was some information on coliform infection. Diarrhea is one of the most common signs of this bacterial infection, which if not medically attended to, can give rise to weakness, dehydration and a host of other distressing symptoms. Thus, one must not ignore these symptoms, and seek medical help immediately. A timely diagnosis and treatment will certainly help in alleviating the symptoms of this pathogenic infection.