Belonging to the Enterobacteriaceae family, Escherichia Coli is a rod-shaped bacterium that thrives in all kinds of environments, with or without air. Commonly known as E. coli, the bacteria love to live in the intestine of warm-blooded animals and humans. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a total of 265,000 E. coli cases are reported in the United States annually, resulting in 30 fatalities and 3,600 hospitalizations. The majority of these cases (around 36%) are caused by the STEC O157 E. coli strain, whereas the non-O157 STEC strains cause 64%. Read on to learn more about the E. coli bacteria infection.

What Is E. coli Bacteria Infection?

Found in the intestines of both animals and healthy people, E. coli is a bacteria that helps in the digestion of food. Even though harmless, some Escherichia Coli strains cause life-threatening bacterial infections. When an E. coli strain infects your body, it produces a toxin that damages the internal lining of the small intestine, causing diarrhea. There are primarily six strains of Escherichia Coli:

1. Enterotoxigenic E. coli – ETEC is the common cause of diarrhea in travelers.

2. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli – STEC contaminates food. This E. coli strand is otherwise known as VTEC (Verocytotoxin-producing E. coli) and EHEC (Enterohemorrhagic E. coli).

3. Enteroaggregative E. coli – EAEC

4. Diffusely Adherent E. coli – DAEC

5. Enteropathogenic E. coli – EPIC

6. Enteroinvasive E. coli – EIEC

Is E. coli Contagious?

Acquired by ingesting contaminated water or food, E. coli O157 is the most common bacterial infection. It can be easily transmitted from one person to another and from an animal to a person. Therefore, if you work in an organization that requires regular and close contact with people, such as a daycare center or nursing home, you are at a higher risk of getting E. coil infection from an infected person. People more likely to contract E. coli include newborns, the elderly, people with weak immune systems, and travelers.  

Causes of E. Coli Bacteria Infection

From drinking dirty water to eating unclean food, Escherichia Coli bacteria can enter your system in several ways. Listed below are the ways of contracting an E. coli bacteria infection:

1. Contaminated Water

Escherichia Coli in feces from humans and animals can end up in water bodies, including swimming pools, wells, rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. You can easily get a bacterial infection by drinking contaminated water.

2. Unsanitary Food Handling or Contaminated Food

Unhygienic cooking practices are the leading cause of E. coli transmission. These include:

● Forgetting to wash hands before cooking or eating.

● Using dirty utensils.

● Consuming unpasteurized juices or apple cider, undercooked foods, raw seafood products, and soft cheese manufactured using raw milk.

● Eating vegetables and fruits that aren’t washed thoroughly.

3. Food Processing

When an animal is slaughtered, the meat product can easily get the E. coli bacteria from the animal’s intestine.  

4. Personal Contact

Whether you are eating E. coli-infected food, touching poop from a baby’s diaper, or coming into contact with another person with the infection or an animal, touching your mouth without washing your hands properly can transmit the bacteria into your system.  

Symptoms of E. Coli Bacteria Infection

E. Coli infection symptoms usually develop 3 to 5 days after eating or drinking the contaminated food product. Listed below are the common signs and symptoms of Escherichia Coli infection:

● Vomiting

● Stomach cramps and pain

● Fatigue

● Fever

● Loss of appetite

● Nausea

● Diarrhea (Watery or Bloody)

In the case of severe E. Coli infection, the symptoms can vary slightly. These include blood in urine, decreased urine output, dehydration, bruising, and pale skin.

Important: If not treated on time, an E. Coli infection can cause medical complications such as urinary tract infection, pneumonia, pelvic and abdominal infection, bacteremia, and meningitis. Thus, visiting a healthcare provider as soon as you have any of the symptoms mentioned above is advised.

When Do You Need to See a Doctor?

There are different types of Escherichia Coli infections, so it is important to see a healthcare provider if diarrhea lasts more than 3 days. Additionally, you must also get medication if you are unable to keep the fluids in your system, you have bloody poop, you feel tired and nauseous all the time, you are urinating a lot, you have a high fever, and your lower eyelids and cheeks are becoming less pink.

Treatment of E. Coli Bacteria Infection

Fortunately, people with E. coli infection can easily treat the symptoms at home by drinking plenty of water and getting rest. The doctor will prescribe medications if you risk developing HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome). However, it is strictly advised never to take medications to stop diarrhea when diagnosed with E. coli. The symptoms usually get better within 5 to 7 days. Thus, the best way to treat food poisoning is to stay hydrated.

E. Coli Bacteria Infection Prevention

Here are some tips to minimize the risk of getting a bacterial infection:

● Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly

● Refrigerate leftovers immediately

● Clean serving platters, pans, and utensils to prevent cross-contamination

● Keep raw meat away from other foods

● Drink pasteurized milk products only

● Practice good hygiene habits

Want to Hire an E. Coli Food Poisoning Lawyer in Illinois?

Escherichia Coli infection can cause severe discomfort and even complete organ failure in serious cases. With over 265,000 E. coli food poisoning cases reported yearly, Escherichia Coli food poisoning is one of the state’s most common diseases. Whether you got an E. coli infection from eating at a local eatery or a national restaurant, Newland & Newland, LLP can help you. In our extensive years of experience, we have helped hundreds of people get fair compensation for food poisoning caused by the negligence of the manufacturer or chef. Contact us or visit our website right away!

Read More