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What is E. coli infection and how does it spread?

What is E. coli infection and how does it spread?

2023-05-29 15:49:24

E. coli bacteria are normally present in the intestines of healthy humans and animals anyway. Many types of E. coli are not harmful or cause diarrhea for a short time at most. But some dangerous strains of E. coli, such as O157:H7 (also known as Shiga Toxin produced E. coli), can cause severe stomach upset, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.

E. coli infections can occur from contaminated water or food. Infection can occur, in particular, by eating raw vegetables or undercooked meats. Healthy people recover from E. coli O157:H7 infection within a week, but young children and the elderly are at higher risk of developing a life-threatening condition called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), in which the kidneys eventually stop working.


Symptoms of E. Coli Infection

Individuals infected with E. coli O157:H7 may have one or more of the following symptoms. People usually notice symptoms 3 to 4 days after being infected, but symptoms can start at any time within 1 to 14 days. These symptoms can last up to two weeks.

  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stools
  • Vomit
  • Stomach cramps or cramps
  • Fever

Some people with E. coli develop a serious condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Sometimes, this leads to kidney failure. HUS is most likely to occur in children under the age of 5. Some people are infected with E. coli O157:H7 but do not develop any symptoms.


Causes of E. coli infection

E. coli infection can occur for the following reasons-

  • Consuming infected foods such as raw leafy vegetables, undercooked meat or raw milk products.
  • Touching infected animals or unintentionally coming into contact with their feces, such as at camp sites and farms.
  • Contact with an infected person, especially if you do not wash your hands thoroughly after defecation or before touching food items.
  • Drinking water from an untreated water system.
  • Swimming or playing in infected water such as ponds or streams.
Treatment methods for E. coli infection

For E. coli O157:H7 infection, there is no specific treatment. Infected people can usually be cared for at home, and most people get better without medical attention.

Due to diarrhea, there is a lack of water in the body, so it is very important to take enough fluids. If you or your child has blood in your stools, see your doctor as soon as possible. It is not recommended to take antibiotics as they increase the chances of complications. Anti-diarrhoea drugs such as loperamide (Imodium) are also not recommended because they can increase your exposure to toxins.


Prevention methods for E. coli infection

Ensuring good hand hygiene is the most important thing that can be done on an individual's part to protect themselves against E. coli. Some of these events are-

  • Before preparing food or chopping vegetables.
  • Be cautious to wash hands before getting food ready for infants.
  • Do not touch any of the kid's belongings that go into his mouth unless you wash your hands.
  • After using the restroom or changing a baby or old diaper.
  • After coming into contact with animals or house pets
  • Never forget to wash your hands after handling or cutting raw meat.

Another way of preventing E. coli infection is by being careful about handling specific food items that are more prone to contamination by the bacteria, such as-

  • Hamburgers should be cooked properly before consumption.
  • Do not consume raw milk products and unpasteurized juices.
  • Wash all the food items properly before consumption, especially the leafy greens.

Apart from the above, proper care should be taken with regard to the cleanliness of the kitchen, particularly after cooking meat. Clean the counters, knives, chopping boards, and everything that comes into contact with uncooked meat with hot, soapy water.


The informative content furnished in the blog section is not intended and should never be considered a substitution for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any health concern. This blog does not guarantee that the remedies listed will treat the medical condition or act as an alternative to professional health care advice. We do not recommend using the remedies listed in these blogs as second opinions or specific treatments. If a person has any concerns related to their health, they should consult with their health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it based on the content of this blog.