Posted by: msmc4 | March 29, 2010

E. coli

Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) is a newly recognized emerging infectious disease that causes several outbreaks a year. What makes this disease dangerous is its production of a shiga-toxin, high virulence, and low infectious dose. EHEC is transmitted through the ingestion of infected animal feces. Because of its low infectious dose, a person only needs to consume a tiny amount before becoming ill. According to the CDC, symptoms of EHEC will usually occur within 3-4 days after ingestion. Symptoms of EHEC can include stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. However, there is a possibility for more severe symptoms to develop such as kidney failure and death. Fluid and electrolyte replacement is the suggested form of treatment. Although antibiotics are available, researches have suggested it be rarely prescribed because of the risk that EHEC could mutate and become resistant.

Why am I blogging about this?  EHEC is a disease that peaks in the summer months. During the summer, many people are grilling hamburgers and visiting animal fairs.It is important for us to realize that EHEC is spread through the consumption of undercooked hamburger meat, and through the ingestion of infected animal feces. The CDC released the following guidelines to help prevent contracting EHEC:

·  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.

Here is a video describing the impact EHEC can have. After watching this video, do you believe that the government should place stricter regulations on animals in public settings?



  1. We recently talked about preventing E. coli in my nutrition class and these basic food preparations sound easy enough, but still many Americans are not following them and in result, too many people are becoming sick. Thanks for spreading the word!

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