Here are some important facts about E. coli that you need to know about. Fact: Every year, E. coli causes 265,000 infections. Fact: E. coli is recognized as a leading cause of kidney failure in children. Fact: anyone who ingests undercooked foods is at serious risk of E. coli infection.
In the final installment of our series on foodborne illness, we're going to take a look at this potentially lethal bacteria.
What Is E. Coli?
(The image "Low temperature electron-micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria, magnified 10,000 times." is from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service uploaded to wikipedia.)
E. coli is the abbreviated name for Escheria coli, a type of bacterium that resides in the gut. Some strains are harmless; aiding in nutrient synthesis for the host organism. By occupying space in the microflora, they make it harder for dangerous bacteria to move in (imagine a place where all the plots of land have been sold, thus preventing newcomers from settling there).
But other E. coli strains (or races) are very dangerous. One example is E. coli 0157, a strain that received a lot of attention last year when several meat distributors were forced to recall food products contaminated with this bacterium.
How Does E. coli Make People Sick?
E. coli lives in the intestine, the place where fecal matter is produced as a by product of digestion. When we have bowel movements, E. coli within the stool will be excreted from the human or animal host body. When unsuspecting persons eat or drink foods contaminated with fecal matter, they may ingest the bacteria which then produce dangerous poisons that could make the people very sick.
How Common Are E. Coli Infections?
Government statistics put the number of E. coli infections at 73,480 per year. Young children, and the elderly are most susceptible but anyone can become sick from the disease, making E.coli a force to be reckoned with.
What Are E. coli Symptoms?
Escheria coli is a potentially lethal bacteria, known to kill 61 people each year, so it would be wise to be on the look out for signs of bacterial infection. The most common form of illness is gastroenteritis (vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps), but E. coli can also cause urinary tract infections and neonatal meningitis.
How Can We Prevent E. coli Infections?
Health officials offer these invaluable E. coli prevention tips:
- Wash your hands.
- Cook your meats until they are well done (ground meat should be cooked at a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk, dairy products and juices. Pasteurization is a technique that kills Escheria coli and many other pathogenic microbes.
- Clean cooking utensils, countertops and cutting boards after bringing them into contact with raw meat products.
As you can see, good hygiene, quality sanitation and proper handling of food products can drastically reduce our chances of becoming infected with E. coli.
E. coli doesn't have to be a nuisance, with some basics facts about the bacterium and applying this knowledge in your daily life, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from this germ.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
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Wikipedia - Pathogenic Escheria coli
"Guard Against E. Coli The Deadly Intestinal Bug" copyright 2012 © Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.