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Lung diseases

COPD and E-Coli infection in the lungs

08/26/2009

Question:

BACKGROUND INFO: My mother is in the hospital and I was told she has an E-Coli infection in her lungs. Her WBC is over 18,000. She suffers from severe COPD, Asthma and Emphysema. She has recently been put on Oxygen at home but refuses to use the moisture bottle, stating it causes nosebleeds more than the dry oxygen. QUESTION: At 74 years old, having survived a massive heart attack a year ago and very bad lungs, how serious is the E-Coli bacteria that she is fighting off now?

Answer:

E. coli is a bacteria that is normally found in the intestines but usually does not cause pneumonia except in patients who have been in the hospital for a while or patients who have been on antibiotics. Occasionally, we see E. coli pneumonia in patients who have the parasite, strongyloides. In patients with severe COPD, any form of bacterial pneumonia is very serious and E. coli is no exception. The outcome of patients with E. coli pneumonia depends on how quickly it is identified, whether the E. coli is sensitive or resistant to common antibiotics, and how bad the underlying lung disease is.

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Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University