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106. E. Coli Is Everywhere
We all have Escherichia coli bacteria in our
. These are the good strains of the bacteria.
help us digest our food. There are billions
these bacteria in our intestines and in our
. Of the hundreds of strains of good E.
, there are only a few strains that are
for us. These strains usually cause stomach problems
The worst of these strains is labeled
. coli 0157. This strain is common in healthy
, sheep, and goats. But when it gets into
, it causes illness. This strain can kill humans,
only rarely. It kills our red blood cells
causes our kidneys to stop functioning. Hospitalization and
are necessary to prevent death.
Most people just
mildly sick from E. coli 0157. There are
just two symptoms: stomach cramps and diarrhea (non-bloody
bloody). These symptoms may last up to two
. The very young and the very old are
susceptible to severe symptoms. In the US, more
100,000 people get infected annually. People who live
countries with contaminated water develop immunity to infection.
primary sources of infection are contaminated water, undercooked
, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurized milk or
products. Swimming in or swallowing contaminated lake water
also result in infection. In the US, outbreaks
hundreds of people have been traced to undercooked
at fast food restaurants, to packaged vegetable products
as spinach, and even to petting zoos. One
the best preventive measures is to wash our
often, and wash thoroughly after using the toilet.