Can anyone recommend anything for treating e-coli. My friends and their two children have all tested positive after a holiday on a farm but have no symptoms. They have been positive for approx 4 weeks now and the children cannot return to nursery until they test negative, but the medics are offering no treatment. The baby is about 14 months and the little girl is 41/2. I thought about peppermint, garlic or thyme but wondering if anyone had any better suggestions.
I fully understand the situation, my daughters were both brought up on a hill farm on which every bug imaginable (including salmonella and Brucellosis) was rife, but neither ever showed any reactions until the younger one went down disastrously with e-coli in her twenties. There was thus some anxiety when she had her first daughter. However nothing went wrong and in spite of living on another remote hill farm which has been swept by toxoplasmosis, all three of her daughters are fine although almost certainly carriers. I believe I am right in saying that almost every farm-reared child has a stable and ineradicable e-coli population that will only flare up when triggered by stress or another condition. In fact to try and eliminate it from otherwise healthy children will probably do more harm than good by destroying the microflora in the gut. I expect the yummy-mummies will raise their hands and squeal in horror when I suggest that many of the allergies and health problems of the modern urban child are not caused by petrol fumes and eating food two hours past its "sell-by" date but by being reared in an over-sanitised centrally-heated environment Under the circumstances, the medics referred to by Anne are absolutely right and the nursery administrators should get an education in the real world.
May 20 2009, 10:25 AM
I'm sorry your friends are having such problems. Thank you, Anthony, for your response. I had been thinking along the same lines. I grew up on a farm and we had an outbreak of e-coli amongst the pigs which caused miscarriages and deaths of newborn after which the vet recommended we clear the barn and washed it out and left it vacant for a while. We did this but never had pigs again because the bottom dropped out of the market - but that's another story.
The vet said at the time that e-coli were found naturally in the gut and it's only when there is an imbalance, it causes a problem.
If you look at various websites about e-coli, it says there are many strains and most are harmless. I wondered why your friends had been tested in the first place - did someone develop an upset tummy after the visit?
I think an education programme for the nursery staff would be helpful. I would contact your Primary Care Trust and talk to one of the public health doctors or nurses there. Ask them to organise a visit to the nursery to explain to both staff and parents what e-coli is and that the best method of treatment and prevention is washing your hands with soap and hot/warm water before and after visiting the toilet or helping a small child with their toilet needs.
Using the current plethora of anti-bacterial sprays and washes is totally counter-productive since it just develops multi-resistant strains of bacteria and destroys good bacteria which live symbiotically with us along with the bad. MRSA (multi-resistant staphlococcus aurelius) is another harmless bacteria which lives in the throat and only becomes a problem when people over-use anti-biotics or have lowered immune systems. Clostridium difficile (C.diff)also can only be prevented by effective hand washing with soap and hot water, not by alcohol gels. There are herbalists who are treating MRSA effectively - notably using chamomile, thyme and honey, but if someone has MRSA, it needs to be treated by someone qualified who has experience in this area.
Teaching nursery staff and small children to wash all their hands including thumbs and down onto the wrist and under nails is a good investment. All public health departments will have leaflets and diagrams showing how to wash hands properly.
If the nursery refuse to allow the children to return quoting education department policy, then policy, education and training need to be done at a more senior level between the public health doctors and local authority managers. If the nursery is private, then go in through the regulation and inspection route. All nursery staff should be trained in basic infection prevention and control and if there are educational deficits, they need to be addressed.
I'm sorry if this is long and somewhat rantish, but infection control is one of the bees in my rather over-sized bonnet! I think my worst ever moment came several years ago whilst accompanying an infection control nurse on a cleanliness visit to several wards in my local hospital (one of the largest in Europe) and watching a cleaner try to mop a floor continually adding disinfectant to her mop bucket. The infection control nurse told me that as the water in the bucket was cold, the cleaning was useless. All that was needed was hot water and soap with disinfectant being applied afterwards, if necessary.
Good luck to your friends!
May 26 2009, 11:22 AM
Hello Sandra and Anthony
Many thanks for your concerned replies. Infection control is also a bee in my bonnet - I have been a reflexologist for 14 years and face constant battles with the NHS when I work in hospitals about using their hand cleansers which irritate my skin leaving them more open to infection than before. I use witch hazel with some essential oils and despite working with people who have HIV/Aids, verrucas etc, etc, I have never picked up anything. Apparently that's not proof enough. Also my father died in part from abuse of antibiotics and in part from lack of infection control ie basic cleanliness in hospital and contracting mrsa - which he apparently got at home!
I asked my friends who was stopping their children from going to nursery and this was their reply:
"The 2 negative rule has come from the Environmental Health Office, who I have to say are just a nightmare, from the first test result in 24hours it's now taking them a week to turn them around. My calls dont get returned and to top it off this week they told me Isaac was negative one day but they'd lost mine and Martha's results and when I called back the next day (as they hadn't rung when they were supposed to) they told me that had been a mistake and we were all still positive! Infuriating and the doctors are no more help. Unusually nursery have been very sensible and would have had no problems taking them back after the usual 48hrs after any symptoms so it's even more frustrating. Caroline Scott at the EHO finally advised yesterday that a third of all children carry it for 3-4 weeks and some as long as two months, so I'm hoping I can get the kids to drink the ginger water. The EHO main concern I think is the increased chance of the dangerous kidney complication in a small percentage of the under 5's that get this particular strain."
They have the strain 0157. So they are still battling to get 2 negative results.
Thanks though for your thoughts.
May 26 2009, 7:31 PM
Sorry SARAH - obviously my head and fingers were'nt co-operating! Not sure where 'Sandra' came from.
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