What happens if water with coliform bacteria is ingested?

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Coliform bacteria have been categorized in the enterobacteria family which is a group of pathogens that usually trigger gastrointestinal conditions. The coliform infections typically occur by ingesting contaminated water or food. The major coliform bacterial usually include shigella which instigates dysentery as well as certain strains of Escherichia coli that can cause diarrhea, UTI and even salmonella which causes vomiting and diarrhea.


The most prevalent consequence of coliform bacterial infection is diarrhea. Shigella can trigger dysentery distinguished by profuse, blood-streaked diarrhea. The strongly linked E. coli bacteria are essentially unbiased or even valuable but some strains are pathogenic and can cause diarrhea.

Even though most cases of E. coli infection can result to mild symptoms similar to food poisoning, it can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome which is similar to dysentery and life-threatening.

Coliform bacteria
Typhoid fever is considered as a systemic disease that is characterized by flu-like symptoms such as abdominal tenderness, headaches, dry cough, fever and loss of appetite.

Both pathogenic E. coli and shigella can be acquired by drinking contaminated water or consuming food that contain large amounts of contaminated water or has been washed in contaminated water. In most cases of diarrheal shigella and E. coli, they tend to resolve on their own after a short span of time, thus antibiotics are reserved for severe cases. If you want to learn how to manage diarrhea, click here.

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections can be instigated by the pathogenic strains of E. coli and klebsiella which is a similar coliform bacterium. Just like with other diarrheal diseases, UTI can be triggered by drinking contaminated water but more often caused by direct contact with the bacteria.

UTI typically affect women and quite common among pregnant women due to the hormonal changes and physical pressure on the urinary tract. UTI can be treated with antibiotics but the number of antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli is increasing.


Abdominal pain, vomiting, fever and diarrhea are indications of gastroenteritis. This can be initiated by consuming or drinking coliform bacteria especially strains of salmonella. Poultry or meat products are the usual causes of salmonella-induced gastroenteritis but can also be acquired from contaminated water.

Since gastroenteritis typically lasts for 2-3 days, antibiotics are not used but can be prescribed if complications occur or if the individual is already sick or his/her immune system is compromised.

Typhoid fever

Even though uncommon in developed countries, typhoid fever can be started by salmonella typhi which is considered as a serious issue in developing countries. Typhoid fever is considered as a systemic disease that is characterized by flu-like symptoms such as abdominal tenderness, headaches, dry cough, fever and loss of appetite.

Those who have typhoid fever only exhibit a rash of elevated, red-colored spots usually on the front of the chest which fades after 3-4 days. If the condition is not treated, typhoid fever is deadly. Just like with other diseases instigated by the coliform bacteria, typhoid fever is acquired by drinking or eating contaminated water or food.

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