Updated on August 23, 2016
E. coli & The Important Facts You Should Know!
“The bacterium Escherichia coli (E. Coli) takes about twenty minutes to divide. So after one hour, one E. Coli cell has turned into eight. After only six and a half hours, there will be over a million bacteria!” ― Jennifer Gardy
E. coli. We"ve heard about that nasty bacteria in most incidents or outbreaks that are related to food poisoning. We simply know it"s something that contaminates our food and give us some devastating conditions.
But, little do we know about its details and where it comes from. So, here are some interesting facts about E. coli.
Discovered in 1885
Escherichia coli or E. coli was first discovered by German bacteriologist Theodor Escherich in 1885. Because it was found in the human colon, it was called Bacterium coli and was found responsible for infant diarrhea and gastroenteritis. Its name was later changed to honor its discoverer.
Responsible for Foodborne Illness
One of the most common causes of foodborne illness in the U.S. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 265,000 people each year are affected.
Infection thru Contamination
Infection starts when you swallow microscopic feces that can get them from contaminated food. In some outbreaks, raw produce, raw milk, soft cheese, and unpasteurized apple cider are among the common culprits. Handling a dirty diaper or eating food prepared by someone who has a bad hygiene habit may contaminate you as well.
Anyone"s At Risk
Yeah, anyone. No one"s an exception and we can become infected by this deadly bacteria anytime. The most vulnerable ones are young children and the elderly who have been reported to suffer from severe symptoms such as diarrhea, pneumonia and on rare occasions, can cause bowel necrosis (tissue death).
Most common symptoms would be: severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that turns bloody within 24 hours, and sometimes fever. These symptoms might show within 3 to 4 days. An uncomplicated illness can range from one to twelve days. Others can develop a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which can lead to acute kidney failure.
Most medical labs and doctors know how to diagnose this kind of bacteria especially if the patient is suffering from bloody diarrhea. A stool specimen would be a good way to determine the existence of the particular bacteria.
Antibiotics are not the solution and according to some medical research, it can increase the risk of HUS. There is no specific therapy to stop symptoms. It"s recommended to stay attention to nutrition ad hydration. Most individuals who don"t develop HUS recover in two weeks.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
To prevent you and your family from getting infected, you need to practice proper personal hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly before or after doing activities that might get you traces of bacteria such as going to the bathroom or preparing food. Sanitize all domestic or local fruits and vegetables. Anything can be a carrier.