ID: 222
Category: Inflammation
CreatedBy: 1
UpdatedBy: 1
createdon: 14 Jul 2017
updatedon: 06 Apr 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Jul 14, 2017
Updated Apr 06, 2023

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Infectious Colitis

Etymology and Pronunciation

colitis (koh-LIE-tis)
kolon - Greek for "colon"
-itis - Greek for "inflammation"

History of Infectious Colitis

Colitis is the inflammation of the colon. So Infectious colitis is: inflammation of the colon caused by infections.

In the 1920s, researchers discovered that certain bacteria, such as Salmonella and Shigella, could cause severe diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. This led to a greater understanding of the role of bacteria in gastrointestinal infections and the development of new treatments, such as antibiotics, to combat these infections. Researchers would obtain a stool sample from a patient with suspected infectious colitis and then culture the sample in a laboratory to identify the presence of Salmonella bacteria.

In the 1950s and 1960s, researchers identified other types of infectious agents that could cause colitis, including viruses, parasites, and fungi. This led to a greater understanding of the diverse causes of infectious colitis and the need for targeted treatment based on the specific infectious agent causing the inflammation.

In the 1970s, advances in technology, such as the development of the electron microscope, allowed researchers to study infectious agents in greater detail, leading to the discovery of new pathogens that could cause colitis, such as the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica.

Today, infectious colitis is diagnosed through a combination of laboratory tests, such as stool cultures and blood tests, and imaging studies, such as colonoscopy. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the infection and may include antibiotics, antiviral medications, or antiparasitic drugs. In some cases, supportive care, such as fluid and electrolyte replacement, may also be necessary to manage symptoms.

Modern Understanding of Infectious Colitis

Infectious colitis is an inflammation of the colon caused by an infection with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. In most cases, the infection resolves within a few days to a week, but in some cases, it can become severe and require hospitalization. Good hygiene, including frequent hand washing, can help prevent the spread of infectious colitis.

The infection is typically spread through contaminated food or water, or from person to person through poor hygiene. Infectious colitis can sometimes be prevented by practicing good hygiene, properly preparing and storing food, and avoiding high-risk activities such as swimming in contaminated water.

Infections causing colitis can happen from something as simple as eating unwashed food. In 2019 an outbreak of infectious colitis caused by the bacteria E. coli O157:H7 occurred in several Canadian provinces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 167 people were infected, of those 85 were hospitalized, and zero reported deaths. Public health investigators used DNA fingerprints of bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella in order to identify related infections (using the "PulseNet system") and then to even locate the source of the outbreak: a lettuce farm in California.

Causes of Infectious Colitis

- Bacteria: Several types of bacteria can cause infectious colitis, including Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).
- Viruses: Viral infections such as Norovirus, Rotavirus, and Cytomegalovirus can also cause infectious colitis.
- Parasites: Parasites such as Giardia lamblia and Entamoeba histolytica can cause infectious colitis, particularly in individuals who have traveled to areas with poor sanitation or have consumed contaminated food or water.

Treatments for Infectious Colitis

The treatment for infectious colitis depends on the underlying cause of the infection. In many cases, the infection will resolve on its own within a few days to a week, and treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing dehydration.

- Rest and hydration: Resting and drinking plenty of fluids, such as water and electrolyte solutions, can help to prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting.
- Antibiotics or antiviral medication: If the infection is caused by bacteria or a virus that is susceptible to antibiotics or antiviral medication, the healthcare provider may prescribe medication to help clear the infection.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help to restore the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can be disrupted by infectious colitis. Probiotic supplements or foods such as yogurt can be helpful in restoring gut health.
- Pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen can help to relieve pain and fever associated with infectious colitis. However, it is important to avoid using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin, which can further irritate the lining of the stomach.
- Hospitalization: In severe cases of infectious colitis, hospitalization may be necessary for intravenous fluids and electrolytes, antibiotic treatment, and monitoring of symptoms.

In addition to treatment, it is important to practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of infectious colitis. This includes frequent hand washing, avoiding sharing personal items such as towels or utensils, and properly cooking and storing food to avoid contamination.


Loss of appetite
Abdominal pain
Stomach cramps
Weight loss

Confirmation Tests

- Stool test
- Blood test
- CT scan
- Endoscopy

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