E coli infection linked to kidney, heart problems

Friday, November 19, 2010

TORONTO - People who contract gastroenteritis by drinking E-coli infested water are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, kidney problems and heart disease in later life, says a study.

The findings underline the importance of ensuring safe food and water supply and the need for regular monitoring of those affected, reports the British Medical Journal.

It is estimated that E-coli O157:H7 infections cause up to 120,000 gastro-enteric illnesses annually in the US alone, resulting in over 2,000 hospitalisations and 60 deaths.

Researchers from Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) and the University of Western Ontario (Western), both in Canada, assessed the risk for hypertension, renal impairment and cardiovascular disease within eight years of gastroenteritis from drinking contaminated water.

The team used data from the Walkerton Health Study, the first study to evaluate long term health after an outbreak of gastroenteritis in Walkerton, Ontario, in May 2000 when a municipal water system became contaminated with E-coli O157:H7 and Campylobacter bacteria, according to a Lawson statement.

Study participants were surveyed annually and underwent a physical examination and laboratory assessment to track their long term health.

Of 1,977 adult participants, 1,067 or 54 percent experienced acute gastroenteritis, of which 378 sought medical attention.

Compared with participants who were not ill or only mildly ill during the outbreak, participants who experienced acute gastroenteritis were 1.3 times more likely to develop hypertension, 3.4 times more likely to develop renal impairment, and 2.1 times more likely to have a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

“Our findings underline the need for following up individual cases of food or water poisoning by E coli O157:H7 to prevent or reduce silent progressive vascular injury,” says William Clark, scientist at Lawson.

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