Escherichia coli, known as E. coli, is a group of bacteria that naturally lives in the intestines of people and most animals. Its primary function is to help the body break down and digest the food that we consume. However, E. coli has many strains, and some of them are harmful. For this reason, it is important to know E. coli symptoms and treatment to prevent complications from an infection and safeguard your health.
Some people who have contracted some E. coli strains do not get any illnesses at all, while other people experience symptoms of infection. These symptoms often leads to more severe complications.
In this article, we will discuss E. coli symptoms and treatment to inform you of the dangers of E. coli infection through food consumption.
Causes of E. Coli Infections
Enterohemorrhagic E. coli is the most common strain of E. coli bacteria. It causes severe intestinal infection due to the “Shiga” toxin it produces.
Learning what causes an E. coli infection is part of knowing more about E. coli symptoms and treatment. The following are the common food items that may be contaminated by this bacteria strain:
- Meat. The slaughtering process can cause contamination as the intestines of one animal get mixed with meat from other animals. Human-to-animal transmission of E. coli starts with eating raw or undercooked meat.
- Unpasteurized Milk. Freshly pumped milk from cows can be contaminated as the cow’s milking equipment can acquire E. coli bacteria. Moreover, products made from raw milk, such as soft cheese can also be contaminated. To prevent infection, it is important to heat the milk at a high temperature. This will kill the bacteria before consumption.
- Fruits and Vegetables. Some crops are planted near animal farms where animal feces is often used as a natural fertilizer. When this happens, the runoff water from the animal feces may enter fields with crops. In such situations, it is possible that the crops may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.
- Contaminated Water. Animal feces combined with rainwater may run through all types of waterways like ponds, rivers, streams, and even city-wide water supplies. If not filtered, the water that we may drink can be contaminated.