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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About E. Coli But Were Afraid To Ask

We live in a quick food mentality society. Everything must get to market quicker to satisfy the rising demands of its ever growing population of hungry consumers.

The meat industry has successfully stepped up to the plate and have delivered. But many meat producers are operating with very poor sanitary methods. Resulting in E. Coli warnings, illnesses and sometimes death! Over 70,000 people are infected with E. Coli O157:H7 and less than 61 deaths attributed to E.Coli occur each year.

What is E. Coli?

E. Coli O157:H7 is just one of the hundreds of strains of the bacterium known as Escherichia coli. This particular strain has a powerful toxin that can result in severe illness and in some cases even death. Most E. Coli outbreaks have been the result of eating undercooked contaminated ground beef.

How do people become infected with E. Coli O157:H7?

1. Eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef.
2. Eating contaminated fresh leafy vegetables and or bean sprouts.
3. Contamination by means of Person to Person contact.
4. Drinking contaminated unpastuerized milk or juices.
5. Drinking contaminated water
6. Swimming in contaminated water.
7. Eating unwashed fruits or vegetables where manure has been used as fertilizer or has contaminated the water source used to irrigate the fields. Manure is a primary source of E.Coli O157:H7.

How can we prevent E.Col
i O157:H7 infection?

1. Wash your hand prior to and after handling food.
2. Be sure to ALWAYS thoroughly cook ground beef.
3. Only drink pasteurized milk.
4. Wash fruits and vegetables well. Removes outside leaves or peel and discard the skins or peelings.
5. Only drink pasteurized juices.
6. Thoroughly cook salami
7. Develope excellent hygiene habits and wash hands often! Especially when interacting with babies or toddlers, because it is transmitted through their feces. Anyone with diarrheal illness should not swim, bath with others or prepare food.
8. Since livestock are the primary source of E. Coli changes must be made in the preparation before and during slaughter and processing of the livestock. Tests must also become mandatory and the meat withheld from market if it is found to be contaminated!
9. Prevent environment contamination of fields and their water sources.
10. Avoid swallowing water from lakes, pools.

How is E. Coli O157:H7 being spread?

Meat is being contaminated during the slaughter process and is accidentally being mixed in during the grounding of the meat. In cases of becoming infected by raw milk it is because the udders of the cow or the milking equipment were not properly cleansed or cleaned.

Please note E. Coli O157:H7 can be found in the intestines of healthy animals including cattle, sheep, goats and deer. This bacteria can be found at most cattle farms and petting zoos. The fur, ground, feeders and waterers, railings can be contaminated with this bacteria. So it is absolutely imperative that you clean and wash yourself and your clothing should you visit a farm, petting zoo, animal exhibit or show. I suggest carrying antiseptic bacterial fighting wipes in your car, purse, backpack or what have you. Young children must be supervised and their hands must be kept away from their face and mouths.

What are the symptoms of E. Coli O157:H7?

Generally people who are exposed to E. Coli O157:H7 can become ill any where from two to eight days after exposure. Some of the symptoms may include severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps, small or no fever. Not all of those infected will experience these symptoms. The illness ends within five to ten days.

In children under the age of five and in the elderly the E. Coli O157:H7 can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), where the red blood cells are ruined and the kidneys subsequently fail. (HUS) is a life threatening condition that is generally treated in an intensive care unit and blood transfusions and or kidney dialysis may be required.

The way to diagnose E.Coli is is by testing stool sample for the bacterium. As far as treatment goes, it is not recommended to receive antibiotics. Most patients recover without complications in five to ten days. Anti diarrhea medications should not be used as well.

If you have a bloody stool see your Dr. immediately and question to be tested for E. Coli O157:H7

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