E. coli 0157H7

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Interview with Dr. Tamara GullGull photo

There are many bacteria that can cause food poisoning.  Bacteria that can be normal in one animal can become a severe health risk when they enter another animal’s body.

E. coli 0157H7 is one of these bacteria, and is known for causing serious disease in people, specifically gastroenteritis and damage to the kidneys. This strain of E. coli is a normal inhabitant of the intestines of livestock and doesn’t make them sick, yet if this bacteria contaminates our food it becomes a severe health risk to us.  It can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, even kidney failure and death, particularly in children and the elderly.

Cooking meat to the proper internal temperature kills the E. coli bacteria. Completely cooking meats, as well as washing produce carefully before consumption, will help protect you from this disease.  As with many diseases hand washing is an important safeguard to protect you from transferring the bacterium to yourself or others.  Understanding this disease, and how it is spread, will help keep you safe.