Four main categories of E. Coli produce diarrhea in humans:
- Enteropathogenic (childhood diarrhea): Primarily affects children less than 2 years of age. This is caused by the bacteria attaching itself to the cells of the intestines and causing destruction of the cells and diarrhea as a result.
- Enterotoxigenic (cholera): Produces a toxin mediated diarrhea that is indistinguishable from severe cholera, traveler's diarrhea and maybe childhood diarrhea.
- Enterohemorrhagic: produces a shigella like toxin that causes bloody diarrhea and colitis.
- Enteroinvasive (bacillary dysentery): Produces a disease similar to that produced by Shigella organisms.
E. Coli is the leading cause of traveler's diarrhea.
Management may require fluid and electrolyte correction. Severe infections usually respond to antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin or gentamicin or tobramycin.