Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)

General or Other | Nephrology | Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) (Disease)


Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) is a rare condition, which can be caused by infection with a bacteria that releases toxins into the body. Toxic strains of E. coli bacteria, such as E. coli 0157, belong to a group of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), which cause haemorrhagic colitis (bloody diarrhoea).

A person with hemolytic uremic syndrome, usually a child, has anemia, rashes, excessive bleeding, and kidney failure. Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a rare illness that can occur in children after an intestinal infection. About 20 % of children with hemolytic uremic syndrome experience permanent kidney damage. Hemolytic uremic syndrome can be life threatening.

Causes and Risk factors

The classic childhood case of HUS occurs after ingestion of a strain of bacteria, usually types of E. coli, that expresses verotoxin. Bloody diarrhea typically follows. HUS develops about 5-10 days after onset of diarrhea, with decreased urine output (oliguria), blood in the urine, kidney failure, low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) and destruction of red blood cells. Hypertension is common.

In some cases, there are prominent neurologic changes.

Diagnosis and Treatment

HUS in children tends to be self-limiting, and supportive care is often all that is needed. This may include intravenous fluids for rehydration and rebalancing of electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which can be lost with the diarrhea.

Blood transfusions are only used for the most severe cases of anemia in which the hemoglobin falls below 6 or 7 g/dL (depending on age, the normal value is 11-16).


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