Volume 8, Issue 2
E. coli (Escherichia coli) are a large and diverse group of bacteria that live in human and animal intestines. Most strains are harmless, while others can make you sick. E. coli is most commonly contracted directly through contaminated food, water, or improper handwashing after bathroom use. Undercooked meats, unpasteurized dairy products, produce grown in animal manure or washed with contaminated water, can be other causes of infection.
What are the signs and symptoms of an E. coli infection?
Signs and symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
- Diarrhea (often bloody)
Some types of E. coli may cause diarrhea, but others can cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness or pneumonia. Most people start to feel sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, you may become ill 1 to 10 days after exposure.
How to prevent E. coli infection
E. coli infection can be prevented by washing your hands before handling, serving, and eating food. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach. Make sure meat is properly cooked to temperatures provided below:
- Poultry: 165˚F
- Ground meat, eggs: 155˚F
- Steaks, pork chops, roasts, fish, shellfish: 145˚F
The practice of good hygiene and following food safety guidelines can decrease your risk of an infection. For more information regarding E. coli please visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.