A study of 1,000 healthy women conducted by the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine has revealed that it is possible for people without symptoms of urinary tract infections to have multi-drug resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains in their gut.
The result of the study published in the Oxford University Press journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases could be used to determine the physiological reasons behind the pandemic of multi-drug resistant E. coli strains.
What is E. coli?
Escherichia coli usually written as E. coli according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are bacteria found in the environment, foods, intestines of people and animals. The Center’s publication also noted that this kind of bacteria comes in different strains. Some of them may be harmless while others could cause sickness.
Why This Discovery Is Important
The pathogenic E. coli was discovered by the UW researchers to be capable of transporting from the digestive tract (gut) to the urinary tract. This, as reported, may lead to serious complication which may be hard to treat.
“This is of clinical concern because disease-causing E. coli bacteria can transfer from the digestive tract to the female urinary tract via the urethra, the urine duct, which is shorter and positioned differently in females than in males.” The researchers commented.
“The bacteria can then make their way into the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract.”
More Than Third Participants Tested Positive
The research led by Veronika Tchesnokova recruited 1000 healthy women from the Puget Sound area with no symptoms of urinary tract infections. The researchers detected the presence of pathogenic E. coli in some of these participants gut even though they have never presented any symptoms of urinary tract infection.
According to the research report, when the urine samples of the participants with fluoroquinolone (Cipro) resistant E. coli in their gut were tested, more than a third was observed to have E. coli growth.
“More than a third of urine samples provided by those who had fluoroquinolone (Cipro) resistant gut E. coli tested positive for E. coli growth.”
“Of those, nearly 77 percent were Cipro-resistant, and the clonal type of the bacteria matched the fecal sample.”
Major Cause of Drug-Resistant Urinary Tract Infections
When the detected E. coli in the urine samples collected were closely examined, strains of E. coli detected in the guts of the infected participants were noticed to be twice as frequent compared to other E. coli strains observed.
“Most of the pathogenic E. coli found belonged to the pandemic, multi-drug resistant ST131-H30R or ST1193 clonal groups that currently cause the majority of the drug-resistant urinary tract and bloodstream infections.”
“They were detected twice as frequently in the urine of people who had these specific strains in their gut, compared to other strains of E. coli in general.”
“In addition, the presence of ST ST131-H30R in the gut in this study was associated with older age.” The researchers stated.
The senior researcher on the team, Evgeni V. Sokurenko, who is a professor of microbiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in an interview explained that; “… knowing whether or not multiple drug-resistant strains are present in a woman’s gut could help predict the resistance profile of a subsequent clinical infection.”
According to Skurenko, getting rid of the E. coli in guts as discovered by the study could significantly reduce the rate of multiple drug-resistant infections, and may protect more people.