Escherichia coli (E. coli)
Escherichia coli commonly referred to as E. coli, is a common bacteria which affects the lower intestines of endotherms. The bacterium was discovered in 1885 by Theodor Escherich, who was a practicing Pediatrician and bacteriologist. The bacterium was first isolated from the fecal matters of newborns. It was later to be renamed Escherichia coli and has been considered as an organism inhabiting the large intestines. However in 1935, a particular strain of E. coli was demonstrated to cause an outbreak of diarrhea in infants, greatly changing the perception about the bacterium (Madigan and Martinko, 2006).
There are many strains of the bacteria, some which are harmless while others have been recorded to cause food poisoning leading to recall of products. The harmless strains of the bacteria form the gut flora and are beneficial to host animals as they contribute to production of Vitamin K2 and inhibit pathogenic floras in the intestine. Escherichia coli infest human intestine very fast after an infant is born. It has been shown that the bacterium infest intestine just forty hours after birth and is mainly derived from individuals handling infants. Escherichia Coli do not always exist in the intestine and can survive for a short period of time in the outside environment. This makes them important organism indicator for fecal contamination in the environment