Long-Term Health Risks After Gastroenteritis from Contaminated Drinking Water

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Acute gastroenteritis due to E. coli O157:H7 seems associated with increased long-term risk for hypertension and other cardiorenal complications, according to a BMJ study of a large Canadian outbreak. Researchers tracked some 2000 adults whose well water was contaminated with livestock waste during flooding. About half the cohort reported symptoms compatible with gastroenteritis; both E. coli O157:H7 and Campylobacter species were widely recovered from stool samples taken at the time of the incident. After a median follow-up of 8 years, those who suffered gastroenteritis were more likely to develop hypertension, structural and functional renal impairment, and cardiovascular disease than those in whom gastroenteritis did not develop or whose illness was mild. The authors, pointing out that E. coli O157:H7 toxins have receptors in kidney tissue, say it’s important for patients infected with this organism to undergo regular blood pressure and kidney-function monitoring “to prevent or reduce silent progressive vascular injury.” BMJ article (Free)

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