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Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria normally live in the intestines of people and animals. Most E. coli are harmless and actually are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some E. coli are pathogenic, meaning they can cause illness, either diarrhea or illness outside of the intestinal tract. The types of E. coli that can cause diarrhea can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or persons.

E. coli consists of a diverse group of bacteria. Pathogenic E. coli strains are categorized into pathotypes. Six pathotypes are associated with diarrhea and collectively are referred to as diarrheagenic E. coli.


People of any age can become infected. Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) than others, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill.


Infections start when you swallow Shiga toxin-producing E. coli  (STEC)—in other words, when you get tiny (usually invisible) amounts of human or animal feces in your mouth. Unfortunately, this happens more often than we would like to think about. Exposures that result in illness include consumption of contaminated food, consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk, consumption of water that has not been disinfected, contact with cattle, or contact with the feces of infected people. Some foods are considered to carry such a high risk of infection with E. coli O157 or another germ that health officials recommend that people avoid them completely. These foods include unpasteurized (raw) milk, unpasteurized apple cider, and soft cheeses made from raw milk. Sometimes the contact is pretty obvious (working with cows at a dairy or changing diapers, for example), but sometimes it is not (like eating an undercooked hamburger or a contaminated piece of lettuce). People have gotten infected by swallowing lake water while swimming, touching the environment in petting zoos and other animal exhibits, and by eating food prepared by people who did not wash their hands well after using the toilet. Almost everyone has some risk of infection.


Prevention: 


​WASH YOUR HANDS thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food.


WASH YOUR HANDS after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard).


COOK meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F/70˚C. It’s best to use a thermometer, as color is not a very reliable indicator of “doneness.”


AVOID raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (like fresh apple cider).


AVOID swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.


PREVENT cross contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat. 


Our room decontamination system is much more effective than any hand cleaning alone. Contact us for more details. 



References: http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/general/index.html

Escherichia coli (E.coli)