THURSDAY, May 17, 2018 – Some tourists may be happier than others if they get a case of "travel diarrhea".
Researchers found that for people who are infected with the type of E. coli that causes the condition, the severity of their symptoms seemed to depend on their blood type.
Enterotoxigenic E. coli causes millions of cases of diarrhea and hundreds of thousands of deaths every year worldwide. Most of those affected by the bacteria are infants and those living in developing countries.
Some people who are infected with this type of E. coli develop severe, watery diarrhea. In others, the infection causes only mild or no symptoms.
It turns out that the blood group might play a role.
People with blood group A became more likely to become infected with this specific form of blood E. coli than those with blood group O or B, the authors of the study reported.
Washington University School of Medicine researchers, along with scientists from Johns Hopkins University, the US National Institutes of Health, and the Naval Medical Research Center, said they determined the protein responsible for this discrepancy between blood types.
They found that in humans with blood group A, E. coli releases a protein that sticks to intestinal cells, but not to blood group O or B. The protein also sticks to E. coli, which makes it easier for the bacteria to have healthy cells to infect.
The authors of the study say that the goal is to find a vaccine that attacks this protein and protects those with type A blood.
"We think this protein is responsible for this blood group difference in the severity of the disease," study author Dr. James Fleckenstein, associate professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.
"A vaccine against this protein would potentially protect the most at-risk people for serious diseases," he added in a University press release.
In the controlled study, the researchers gave healthy volunteers a dose of an E. coli strain that was originally isolated from a person in Bangladesh who had severe diarrhea. The volunteers were monitored for five days. Those who developed moderate to severe diarrhea were treated with antibiotics.
At the end of the study, all participants were given medications to remove the bacteria from their system ̵
The studies showed that 81 percent of those with blood group A developed diarrhea requiring treatment. The same is true for only about 50 percent of patients with type B or O blood types.
Despite these findings, researchers do not suggest that people change their behavior due to their blood type
"I do not want someone to be his Travel plans to Mexico canceled because he has type A blood, "said the researcher. Matthew Kuhlmann. "Or vice versa: I do not want anyone to think that they are safe because their blood type is not A. There are many different types of bacteria and viruses that can cause diarrhea, so even if this blood group association is strong, it does not change anything You should continue to take the same precautions, regardless of your blood type. "
These precautions include frequent hand washing, purified water, and generally good hygiene as the best protective measure against E
Those by the US National Institutes of Health The funded study was published on May 17 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation .
FoodSafety.gov has more information on E. coli
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