The key difference between ETEC and EHEC is that ETEC is a pathotype of E. coli bacteria and is the main cause of travelers’ diarrhea, while EHEC is a pathotype of E. coli bacteria and is the main cause of bloody diarrhea.
ETEC and EHEC are two major foodborne pathogens that cause serious public health threats in low-income and developed countries, respectively. Moreover, pathogenic E. coli bacteria associated with gastrointestinal illness are divided into eight pathotypes based on virulence profiles. They are EPEC (enteropathogenic E. coli), EHEC (enterohaemorrhagic E.coli), ETEC (enterotoxigenic E .coli), EIEC (enteroinvasive E. coli), EAEC (enteroaggregative E. coli), DAEC (diffusively adherent E. coli), AIEC (adherent invasive E.coli), and STEAEC (Shiga toxin-producing enteroaggregative E. coli)).
What is ETEC?
ETEC is an important cause of bacterial diarrheal illness. ETEC is a pathotype of E .coli bacteria, which is the main cause of travelers’ diarrhea. It is also a major cause of diarrheal disease in lower-income countries, especially among children. ETTC pathotype is transmitted by food or water contaminated with animal or human feces. This infection can be prevented by safely preparing foods and beverages that could be contaminated with ETEC pathotype. Moreover, washing hands properly may also prevent this ETEC infection.
ETEC produces two special toxins (ST-heat stable toxin and LT-heat labile toxin) that stimulate the lining of the intestines to secrete excessive fluid, causing diarrhea. ETEC was first recognized as the cause of human diarrheal disease in the 1960s. The infection by ETEC can cause profuse watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea with or without vomiting, chills, loss of appetite, headache, muscle ache, and bloating.
ETEC infection can be diagnosed through patient history, symptoms, and cultures made from samples of stool. Furthermore, the treatment options for ETEC infection may include giving clear fluids to prevent dehydration, rehydration salts or premixed oral rehydration solutions, bismuth subsalicylate compounds, antimotility medications, and antibiotics (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, fluoroquinolones).
What is EHEC?
EHEC is a pathotype of E. coli bacteria and is the main cause of bloody diarrhea. EHEC is a major public health concern in developed countries. It is the third most common zoonotic pathogen in Europe, associated with large food poisoning outbreaks in Europe, the USA, Canada, and Japan. EHEC is the pathotype of E. coli that produces a toxin called Shiga toxin. This toxin causes damage to the lining of the intestinal wall. In 1982, EHEC was discovered as the cause of bloody diarrhea that developed after eating undercooked or raw hamburger meat. The symptoms of EHEC symptoms may include abdominal cramps, severe bloody diarrhea, non-bloody diarrhea, little to no fever, fatigue, nausea, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
An EHEC infection can be diagnosed through physical examination, stool culture, rapid stool assay for shiga toxin, and X-ray. The treatment options for EHEC infection may include supportive care, drinking plenty of fluid to prevent dehydration, blood transfusion, and kidney dialysis.
What are the Similarities Between ETEC and EHEC?
- ETEC and EHEC are two major foodborne pathogens that cause serious public health threats in developing and developed countries.
- Both are two main pathotypes of coli bacteria associated with gastrointestinal illness
- Both pathotypes make specific toxins.
- They cause diarrhea.
What is the Difference Between ETEC and EHEC?
ETEC is a pathotype of E.coli and is the main cause of travelers’ diarrhea, while EHEC is a pathotype of E.coli and is the main cause of bloody diarrhea. Thus, this is the key difference between ETEC and EHEC. Furthermore, the ETEC pathotype only has a human reservoir of infection, while the EHEC pathotype is a zoonotic pathogen.
The below infographic presents the differences between ETEC and EHEC in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – ETEC vs EHEC
ETEC and EHEC are two main pathotypes of E. coli bacteria associated with gastrointestinal illness. ETEC is the main cause of travelers’ diarrhea, while EHEC is the main cause of bloody diarrhea. So, this is the key difference between ETEC and EHEC.
1. “Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia Coli.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 19 Nov. 2019.
2. “Enterotoxigenic E. Coli (ETEC).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 Dec. 2014.