E. coli: Overview

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Modified on 2009/10/14 21:48 by admin
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a common bacterium that resides in human intestines. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, one particular strain, E. coli O157:H7, produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness. Since its discovery in 1982, most E. coli 0157:H7 infections have resulted from eating undercooked ground beef.

Other known sources of infection include consumption of contaminated sprouts, lettuce, salami, unpasteurized milk and juice, and swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water. Bacteria in stools of infected persons can be passed to another if hygiene or hand washing habits are inadequate. This is particularly likely among toddlers who are not properly toilet trained. Family members and playmates of these children are at high risk of becoming infected. The bacterium can also be passed on to children or adults through contact with farms or petting zoos because animals are resistant to the toxin.

Pasteurization and simple boiling can kill E. coli in foods. Meat should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 F (well done).

This strain of E. coli can cause foodborne illnesses, commonly known as food poisoning. Symptoms often include diarrhea and abdominal cramps and will last from 5 to 10 days. Antibiotics are usually effective in treatment.

E. coli can cause some life threatening complications such as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, but this is rare and occurs mostly in children under 5 and the elderly.

See your doctor if you have experienced serious health problems after being exposed to E. coli. In addition, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.

Attorneys associated with InjuryBoard.com will evaluate your case free of charge. In addition, you will not pay any fees or costs unless your attorney recovers money for you. Please click on the free Ask An Attorney button to take advantage of this valuable service.

See Also

  1. Harmful Bacteria & Fungus: Overview
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