Little is known about the role of Escherichia coli in canine and feline enteric disease. E. coli is part of the normal flora of the gut, but some studies suggest that certain cases of acute diarrhoea might be caused by E. coli capable of producing toxins related to those produced by enteropathogenic E. coli of other species.
E. coli can often be isolated from urine of healthy cats and dogs, although many such isolations probably reflect faecal contamination of the sample. High numbers (>103/ml urine), however, may be associated with pyelonephritis or acute cystitis.
E. coli is also frequently isolated from many sites and the blood of fading puppies and kittens, from abscesses, wounds and pyometra and from peritonitis following bowel injuries or rupture.
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