What Is E. Coli?
E. Coli or Escherichia Coli is the name of a type of bacteria, which lives in the intestines of normal, healthy humans and animals. Most of these bacteria are harmless, but some of them, like the E. Coli 0157: H7 can cause intestinal problems and kidney failure.
E. Coli was previously known as Bacterium coli. Later, it was renamed Escherichia coli, after the name of the scientist, who discovered it, Theodor von Escherich.
What Are The Symptoms Of E. Coli?
Usually, the symptoms are noticed 3-4 days after you come in contact with the E. Coli. Some people infected with E. Coli will not exhibit any symptoms, still, they can infect others. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain, cramps and tenderness.
- Watery stools.
- Blood in the stools.
- Dehydration because of diarrhoea.
- Food poisoning.
- Generally, patients recover in a week’s time. However, in around 10 % of the cases, the infection develops into complications. Usually, this happens in children and old people.
- Haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS): Sometimes, 7-10 days after the onset of symptoms, patients, usually children, develop the Haemolytic-uremic syndrome. In this condition, toxins produced by the bacteria enter the blood stream and damage blood cells, causing clots. In certain cases, these clots enter the kidney are can cause renal failure.
- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP): It is similar to the HUS, but this occurs mostly in adults. The number of slots here is more resulting in easy bruising over the body. The patient gets a high fever, kidneys may get damaged and previously this was considered a fatal disease. But in recent times, with research in medicine, this condition is curable.
What Are The Causes Of E. Coli?
E. Coli is present in huge numbers in animal and the human gut. Though harmless, certain strains of E. Coli 0157: H7, escape from the gut, through animal or human faeces and contaminate water and food.
- We get E. Coli infection when we drink water or eat food which is contaminated by faeces.
- E. Coli infection through food-
- During meat processing, sometimes E. Coli gets into the meat. If this meat is not cooked at very high temperatures, the bacteria remain alive and enter your body when you consume the meat.
- Sometimes the bacteria are passed from the udders of the cow to milk. If the infected milk is not heated to very high temperatures, then the infection passes on to whoever consumes it.
- Raw vegetables and fruits which have come in contact with infected animal faeces also pose a risk of E. Coli infection.
- E. Coli infection through water-
- E. Coli bacteria enter into pools and lakes through human or animal faeces and contaminate the water bodies. If the infected water is not treated and purified properly, the city people are at a risk of developing this infection.
- E. Coli infection through contact-
- This infection also spreads from person to person. When an infected person does not wash his hands properly after pooping, then he transmits the germs from his hand to other people and objects.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage E. Coli?
- Hygiene is a very important factor in the prevention of this disease.
- Wash hands thoroughly after changing diapers and using the loo.
- Wash hands before cooking a meal.
- Clean hands after touching animals, whether at a farm or your pet.
- Cook meat thoroughly, preferably at a temperature of at least 70 Celsius.
- Consume only pasteurised milk and dairy products.
- Wash vegetables and fruits before eating.
- Cutting board, knives, kitchen counter and the entire kitchen area has to be cleaned regularly to avoid cross contamination.
- Do dispose of any food which has come in contact with E. Coli infected food or object.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage E. Coli?
- Avoid consuming raw milk and unpasteurized juices.
- Avoid eating raw sea food. It has to be cooked thoroughly.
- Avoid drinking unfiltered water.
- Avoid swallowing water in swimming pools, lakes or other water bodies.
- Do not eat hamburger has pink meat. That means it is undercooked.
- If you are diagnosed with E. Coli infection, please do not cook food for others as it may spread the infection.
What Are The Best Foods For E. Coli?
- Since diarrhoea causes dehydration, drink enough water.
- Drink liquids like soups, soda and juices to replenish the body with minerals, which it has lost due to frequent passing of stools and vomiting.
- When you recover a little, add some low fibre food to the diet, so that the food is easy on the digestive system. Eat rice, crackers, white bread without seeds or nuts and white pasta.
- Well cooked vegetables in small amounts, potatoes without the skin can be eaten.
- Low fibre fruits like papaya, peaches, plums and watermelons can also be consumed.
What Are The Worst Foods For E. Coli?
- Avoid raw foods, whether it is meat, sea food or vegetables.
- Avoid spicy food and fried food as the stomach is upset and it will aggravate the condition.
- Avoid beverages like tea and coffee.
- Avoid alcohol.
- As the digestive system is very vulnerable during this time, avoid food which the system cannot handle.
What Are The Medicines For E. Coli?
What Are The Tips To Manage E. Coli?
- There is no vaccine for an E. Coli infection. So, the best way to prevent is proper sanitary measures and consuming food which has been properly cooked. Practising safe food handling will go a long way in preventing this infection.
- Rest is very important to recover from any type of illness. Same is true for E. Coli infection too. Take enough rest and replenish the body with electrolytes and fluids.