For this week’s edition of Dr. Fab’s Microbes I bring you Escherichia coli or E. coli to all his friends.
I can see people panicking about the E. coli and saying it’s a horrible microbe that does nothing but cause death and destruction and diarrhea. And while it CAN cause illness, this little guy is actually a normal part of our intestinal flora (all the microorganisms that live in the gut) and does some very useful things. E. coli produces vitamin K2 and protects us against other microorganisms that might try to infect us. So he’s really kind of a super hero of the gut.
Most strains of E. coli are harmless but there are some that can cause food poisoning. It’s usually transmitted through oral-fecal (ewwwwwwwwwwwwww!) route. Most of the time the bacteria can’t live outside a body for long so food poisoning by E. coli isn’t happening all the time. But this little guy can cause a lot more than just food poisoning: UTI (especially in females that wipe back to front), gasteroenteritis (inflammation of GI tract), neonatal meningitis (inflammation of meninges (coverings of brain and spinal cord) in newborns).
***Dr. Fab’s biology lesson for the day*** When you see –itis at the end of a word, it means “inflammation”. So tonsilitis means inflammation of the tonsils, appendicitis= inflammation of the appendix. Now you can show off to all your friends when they ask what phelbitis means! You’ll have to Google that one on your own!
I gotta give some props to E. coli for the role it’s played in the field of biotechnology. It’s what we call a model organism: something used for research. We have sequenced the genome of this organism and we know an awful lot about what makes it tick. Did you know that E. coli was used to produce human insulin using recombinant technology? Type I diabetics are pretty thankful for that I’m sure
Want some fuzzy microbes of your very own? Check out the Giant Microbes website to find some truly awesome plushy bacteria and even cells
Wanna win an e-book copy of my latest novel, The Mad Lord Lucian??? Leave a comment with the definition of a word mentioned above (where I tell you to Google it). FIRST person to answer correctly will win an e-book copy of MLL. I have EPUB and Mobi formats available. Have fun and get to Googling