E. Coli is a facultative aerobes. It is a common type of bacterium and can be found in the intestinal tract of birds, humans and other mammals. E.Coli can cause diarrhea, respiratory problems and urinary tract infections. Probably the most notorious types of E.coli are those that produce Shiga toxin, in particular the strain known as E. coli 0157: H7 which can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhoea and vomitting.
The shiga toxin it produces is one of the most potent poisons we know about. In the 1980s an outbreak of E. coli 0157: H7 was traced to contaminated hamburgers. Since then, many cases of found poisoning by E.coli are believed to have come from undercooked beef.
Common Symptoms of E.Coli
What are the causes of E.Coli?
Unlike many other disease-causing bacteria, E. coli can cause an infection even if you ingest only small amounts. Because of this, you can be sickened by E. coli from eating a slightly undercooked hamburger or from swallowing a mouthful of contaminated pool water.
1. Contaminated food
- Ground beef. When cattle are slaughtered and processed, E. coli bacteria in their intestines can get on the meat. Ground beef combines meat from many different animals, increasing the risk of contamination.
- Unpasteurized milk. E. coli bacteria on a cow’s udder or on milking equipment can get into raw milk.
- Fresh produce. Runoff from cattle farms can contaminate fields where fresh produce is grown. Certain vegetables, such as spinach and lettuce, are particularly vulnerable to this type of contamination.
Human and animal stool may pollute ground and surface water, including streams, rivers, lakes and water used to irrigate crops. Although public water systems use chlorine, ultraviolet light or ozone to kill E. coli, some E. coli outbreaks have been linked to contaminated municipal water supplies.
Private water wells are a greater cause for concern because many don’t have a way to disinfect water. Rural water supplies are the most likely to be contaminated. Some people also have been infected with E. coli after swimming in pools or lakes contaminated with stool.
E. coli bacteria can easily travel from person to person, especially when infected adults and children don’t wash their hands properly. Family members of young children with E. coli infection are especially likely to get it themselves. Outbreaks have also occurred among children visiting petting zoos and in animal barns at county fairs.
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