E. Coli is an abbreviation of the word Escherichia Coli and includes a diverse group of bacteria of which many strains can make you sick. Some types of E. Coli can cause diarrhea while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia as well as many other types of illness. Some E. Coli can make people sick by producing a toxin called Shiga toxin producing E. Coli otherwise known as STEC for short. You should also be aware the term VEROCYOTYTOXIX (E. Coli) or ENTEROATMORRAHGIC (E. Coli) are generally a harmful group of bacteria that are E. Coli related.
STEC is perhaps most common in North America and is sometimes called E. Coli 0157. When you hear news reports about outbreaks of E. Coli generally it is E. Coli 0157. Some E. Coli outbreaks can be non- 0157 STEC and can be known as E. Coli 0126, E. Coli 026, E. Coli 0111, or E. Coli 0103.
People that are most likely to get a STEC infection are very young children and the elderly. Young children and the elderly are susceptible to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome or (HUS).
The symptoms of a E. Coli infection can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and most people are better within 5 to 7 days. Keep in mind the fact that the condition can be life threatening. In fact 5 to 10% of the people diagnosed with E. Coli infection develop life threatening complications.
HUS is a syndrome that results in decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, losing pink color in cheeks and requires hospitalization as the kidneys may stop working. HUS oftentimes occurs 7 days after the first exposure.
How does one get an E. Coli infection? Unfortunately, E. Coli infections come from human animal feces in your mouth. This happens more often than one would think. It oftentimes happens from consumption of contaminated food, consumption of unpasteurized milk, consumption of water that has been contaminated and overall poor handling of the processing of food.
E. Coli 0157 carries such a high risk of infection that people must avoid it completely. It is oftentimes can spread through unpasteurized foods. E. Coli 0157 can make someone sick by swallowing lake water, touching animals at a petting zoo or other animal exhibits, by eating foods prepared by people who did not wash their hands after using the toilet and other unclean or unsterilized environments. Experts have determined that there are approximately 70,000 cases each year just in the United States. It is necessary if you have been infected to get a lab test because identifying a specific strain of E. Coli is very important. Most laboratories can determine if E. Coli is present and can identify at least the strain 0157.
To prevent E. Coli infections it is necessary to:
- Prevent cross contamination by keeping your kitchen utensils
- Clean by washing
- Avoid swallowing water from pools and lakes and garden hoses.
- Avoid unpasteurized food products.
- Cook meat thoroughly at a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 degrees Celsius.
- Wash hands thoroughly and stay away from petting zoos.