I have a friend who has been diagnosed as suffering from leukaemia and he is currently undergoing chemotherapy. However he claims to have been further diagnosed as having e-coli in four vertebrae in his spine. We suspect that while he was willing to tell us that he was suffering from an illness to which there might be a cure he is unwilling to tell us he has cancer of the spine. Has anyone ever heard of e-coli effecting bones and if so what varient of e-coli is it and how did he contract such an ailment? Your advice and comments will be most welcome.
It is certainly possible for bacteria or viruses to travel through the bloodstream and end up pretty much anywhere. I've never heard of E. coli specifically going to the spine, but it seems like it would be possible (I do remember a story about it ending up in the brain).
Thing is this guy has no other symptoms regarding his alleged e-coli in the spine. I would imagine that even if it did attack bones it would only be after e-coli did its normal thing in the gut. Also I gather e-coli in the gut is a notifiable disease in the UK - meanwhile he is just lying in a hospital ward with other patients adjacent to him - all of them being treated for leukaemia and most receiving chemo. The consultant who seems to be dealing with the e-coli hasn't even been to see him yet - but is dealing through underlings - I would have thought this to be such a unique illness that it would merit attention if for the strangeness factor alone. The only clue to his condition is pain in the back and the fact that he is now having enforced bed rest with a catheter in and not even allowed up to use a commode. I should add that he underwent major surgery for a tumour on the liver earlier this year.
Any further comments would be appreciated.
Actually, we all have E. coli in our guts. It is part of the normal intestinal bacteria that help us digest our food. The problem is when it gets into places that it shouldn't be. Food poisoning symptoms caused by E. coli occur when it is ingested and gets into parts of the digestive system that it isn't supposed to be in. There are lots of bacteria that are like this; we need them in our bodies in certain places to do stuff for us, but if they get somewhere else or grow out of control they cause problems.
As for how the bacteria could have gotten there, maybe there was a problem during the liver surgery in which some bacteria were released from the intestines into the abdominal cavity, at which point they migrated to the spine. Or maybe the bacteria overwhelmed his immune system and were able to gain access to his bloodstream. That's the kind of question that may never be answered.
It seems like the important thing is that you support your friend through this difficult time. If you are really concerned about this, maybe you should ask him about it?
You have clarified the points that I had some knowledge of which has confirmed a lot of my own thoughts on this. A great deal of the explanations and stories emmanating from my friend in hospital don't seem to ring quite true but as you say my first thought is to support him through this time. If there is anything else you or anyone else would like to add I am happy to receive further comment and information.