Experimental Treatments Tried in Wave of E Coli Outbreak

E. Coli antibiotic treatments are overly dangerous

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In an effort to aid patients in the wake of the deadly E. coli outbreak, a German team of doctors is trying something new.

The physicians have begun treating some of those sickened with antibiotics, a form of treatment many in the medical field believe could harm more than it helps. More than 2,400 have already been infected and at least 24 have died. At least 800 of those infected patients reside in Hamburg.

"Conventional E. coli treatment involves drinking water and intravenous fluid replacement."

Doctors at the Asklepios Hospital-Altona in Hamburg and a few other area hospitals have started using the experimental treatment because the overwhelming number of patients in dire condition makes the therapy worth a shot. Hundreds of those infected with E. coli have experienced kidney failure.

E. coli patients are typically not treated with antibiotics because it can prompt the toxin to release faster and it could cause kidney complications. The U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and the World Health Organization usually recommend against treatment with antibiotics, acknowledging that it may be appropriate in some scenarios.

At least six patients have been treated with antibiotics at Asklepios and they were reported to be progressing well. However, many doctors still find the use of antibiotics to treat E. coli too risky.

"E. coli should not be treated with antibiotics. Doctors should support a patient and just take care of the complications. If you do (use antibiotics) the body will make more toxins." said Dr. Michael Donnenberg, professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology and associate chairman for research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "It's just an experimental treatment."

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Review Date: 
June 7, 2011
Last Updated:
June 9, 2011