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7 March 2005
Tainted Food Can Cause Urinary Tract Infections

Dr. Lee W. Riley, a researcher at the University of California-Berkeley, has found that E.coli strains isolated from patients with urinary tract infections were genetically related to E.coli strains from cows. The researchers found that the E.coli causing the urinary tract infections matched genetically with a sample of E.coli obtained from an animal source. They used E.coli samples collected over 40 years to match up the bacteria causing urinary tract infections with bacteria found in animals. They tested E.coli samples from dogs, cows, sheep, water and turkeys. The researchers then compared the samples genetically to the urinary tract infection causing bacteria and found that a sample from a cow matched well with the E.coli found in humans. The findings appear in a recent issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

"We found out that urinary tract infections may be caused by ingesting food contaminated with E. coli," said co-researcher Dr. Chobi DebRoy. E. coli is common bacteria found in humans and animals. Thousands of E. coli live in the organs of humans and animals and provide multiple benefits such as aiding in digestion of certain nutrients. However, E. coli is also commonly associated with illnesses caused by eating undercooked beef or drinking contaminated water.

About 10 million people are diagnosed with urinary tract infections each year. Women are more likely to get urinary tract infections than men because it is easier for the bacteria to reach their bladder. Urinary tract infections are typically treated with antibiotics.

The team also found that the E.coli causing the infections is resistant to antibiotics. The possibility that these multidrug-resistant bacteria could have an animal origin has major public health implications because of the practice of administering subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics as growth promoters in animals.


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