PUBLIC HEALTH FACT SHEET
What is E. coli infection?
Escherichia coli is a normal bacteria of the bowel, however, the O157:H7 strain, however, can cause a severe form of diarrheal illness, and up to 10% of cases may experience a syndrome affecting blood and kidneys.
How is it spread?
The organism can be transmitted through almost any food item, but most commonly via under cooked meat, unpasteurized milk, contaminated apple cider, or on foods which have been cross-contaminated with these items. It can also be spread from one infected person to another, especially if personal hygiene is poor.
How is it treated?
E. coli O157:H7 infection generally resolves without treatment, and antibiotics are not usually indicated. Additional fluids may be needed to combat dehydration, especially among children.
How can we prevent E. Coli infections?
- Wash hands well with warm, soapy water after using the bathroom, before and during preparation of foods.
- Cook all meat well done, especially ground meat like hamburger, turkey burger, and hot dogs. All of the pink color should be gone before serving.
- When grilling do not put cooked meat back on the same platter where the uncooked food was stored.
- Have two cutting boards, one for meat and one for other foods.
- Wash and disinfect cutting boards and counters after use. Use an antimicrobial soap or a solution of one tablespoon bleach to one-half cup water.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables well. Peel if possible or use a stiff brush and wash vigorously.
- Refrigerate uneaten cooked foods immediately to prevent bacterial growth. When serving leftovers, heat thoroughly throughout.
SYMPTOMS OF E. Coli
- Watery or bloody diarrhea
- Severe abdominal pain/cramping/fever