- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Escherichia coli - E. coli

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The ubiquitous colon bacillus. Short, plump, gram-negative, non-spore forming motile bacilli almost constantly present in the alimentary canal of man and other animals. They are normally nonpathogenic in the intestinal tract. Outside the body and under certain conditions, particularly in the urine tract, E. coli is responsible for infections in other systems and for enteritis in infants. Certain enteropathogenic strains are a principal cause of traveller’s diarrhoea. The presence of the bacteria in milk or water is an indicator of faecal contamination. E. coli is perhaps the world’s most used laboratory test «animal», an invaluable little fellow in gene research.

Bacterium coli was renamed Escherichia after its discoverer in 1919

What is an eponym?

An eponym is a word derived from the name of a person, whether real or fictional. A medical eponym is thus any word related to medicine, whose name is derived from a person.

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