A team of researchers from Toulouse has identified a new strain of E.coli bacteria. Problem: this could cause more virulent and serious cystitis in women. We talk about it with Dr. Odile Bagot, gynecologist.
One in two women experiences at least one cystitis in her lifetime. One in ten in Europe is confronted with it every year. Urinary tract infection is a common ailment, linked to the migration of bacteria Escherichia coli present in the intestinal microbiota towards the urinary tract, which can degenerate into infection of the kidneys if it is not treated quickly. However, according to a team from the Digestive Health Research Institute in Toulouse, an emerging clone of this bacterium has now been identified. A more severe clone for women and therefore more dangerous.
One in 5 women contracting relevant cystitis
The team thus isolated the strains of E. coli contained in the urine of 223 patients who went through the emergency department of the Toulouse University Hospital for urinary tract infections. They identified a virulence factor carried by a plasmid, a small piece of DNA that can jump from bacteria to bacteria. This virulence factor was found in all the same 20% of patients in the cohort.
“These strains exhibited increased virulence, frequently leading to pyelonephritis accompanied by bloodstream infections” the researchers point out.
To take the discovery further, the team also tested mice injected with this clone: a serious urinary tract infection and an exacerbated inflammatory response appeared in the mouse subjects, confirming the team’s findings.
Towards an appropriate treatment?
For Dr. Odile Bagot, gynecologist and member of our network of experts, this discovery is interesting in that it speaks of “virulence”.
“We already knew about the exchange of plasmids, these small pieces of DNA which encoded resistance to antibiotics, with the concern that more and more strains exchange these plasmids and become resistant. But what is new today with this strain is that the gene therefore induces greater virulence, in addition to this resistance. A virulence which can be responsible for hemorrhagic cystitis and pyelonephritis”.
On the other hand, this new knowledge will not necessarily change processing or detection habits for the moment. “However, we will not look for this gene with each urinary tract infection. But perhaps women experiencing several episodes of serious, recurrent cystitis, on a diabetic or immunocompromised background, for example, can be tested by this laboratory in Toulouse? she asks.
This is also the wish of the Toulouse researchers, in order to be able to start the best treatment as soon as possible. For the time being, as the doctor reminds us, in the presence of more than 4 infections per year and more, long-term antibiotic treatment is proposed.
What prevention against urinary tract infection?
To avoid urinary tract infection, a few simple hygiene tips are sometimes enough. A useful reminder:
- Drink more than 1.5 liters per day;
- Perform complete urination while being relaxed;
- Never hold back when you want to urinate;
- Fight against constipation;
- Wipe with toilet paper from front to back;
- Avoid energetic intimate toilets;
- Urinate immediately after intercourse;
- Avoid tight pants and underwear made of synthetic fibers which promote perspiration and the multiplication of germs.