The natural habitat of Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the intestine of humans and warm-blooded animals. However, while a member of the resident microbiota, the bacteria can cause disease in their hosts. The intestinal infection by E. coli in humans is diarrhea and dysentery. Data accumulated in the literature suggest that they may also be involved in the etiology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a condition marked by intense inflammatory reactions throughout the intestinal tract, leading to the appearance of lesions that can cause serious complications. The most consistent evidence of its probable role in disease is the finding that patients with IBD have an increased population of E. coli. Being the kind very heterogeneous in terms of virulence, the challenge for these bacteria is to quantify and determine the nature of the strains present in patients. To contribute information to this effect, we intend here to investigate likely variations in the prevalence of E. coli in faeces and mucosa of different intestinal segments, between controls and patients with the disease, and characterize the strains detected by PCR looking for potential virulence genes.
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