Complications of intestinal infections with enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) can include haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). The disease is characterised by:
1. Acute haemolytic anaemia
Haemolytic anaemia is characterised by the rapid breakdown (haemolysis) of red blood cells. In HUS, the walls of the blood vessels are damaged (endothelial damage) which may lead to internal bleeding.
Thrombocytopenia (reduced platelet count) is an abnormal drop of thrombocytes in the blood, leading to an acute coagulation defect. This coagulation defect causes many small blood clots (thrombi), which, when entering the blood circulation, may clog blood vessels.
The lack of circulation induced by haemolytic anaemia may lead to anuria (no diuresis). When blood clots clog the kidney's small blood vessels and block its oxygen supply, the kidney is at risk of completely losing its excretory function – acute renal failure.