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E. coli

The symptoms of an E. coli infection can appear three to four days after exposure

E. coli

Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli, is a bacterium that normally resides in the intestines of healthy humans and animals. Most strains of E. coli are harmless or may cause only brief diarrhea. However, certain strains, such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, can trigger more severe symptoms, such as intense abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.



Symptoms of E. coli

The symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection can appear three to four days after exposure, though they can also appear later. These include:

  • Diarrhea can range from mild and watery to severe and bloody.

  • Stomach cramps, pain, or tenderness in the abdominal area.

  • The possible onset of nausea and vomiting in some affected individuals.



Causes of E. coli

The bacterium can be ingested in small amounts and thus can be contracted through:

Contaminated food

  • Ground beef: Ground beef from multiple animals increases the risk of contamination with E. coli, as the bacteria present in cattle intestines can reach the meat during the slaughtering and processing steps.

  • Unpasteurized milk: The E. coli bacteria in cows' udders or on milking equipment can contaminate raw milk if it is not properly pasteurized.

  • Fresh produce: Runoff from livestock farms can contaminate fields where fresh produce is grown, especially vegetables such as spinach and lettuce, which are particularly vulnerable to contamination.

Contaminated water

  • Ground and surface water sources can be contaminated with human or animal feces, including streams, rivers, lakes, and water used to irrigate crops.

Personal contact

  • The E. coli bacteria can easily spread from person to person, especially when infected adults and children do not wash their hands properly.

  • Family members of young children with an E. coli infection are at higher risk of infection. Outbreaks have been recorded among children visiting interactive zoos and animal barns during events like fairs.



How to prevent E. coli?

Currently, no vaccines are available to prevent E. coli infection. Still, preventive measures are recommended, such as avoiding consuming contaminated water or food, washing hands frequently, and being careful with cross-contamination during food preparation.


If you suspect you might be infected with E. coli and experience concerning symptoms, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention. At BlueNetHospitals, you can be attended by trained professionals to treat foodborne illnesses, ensuring quality medical care and prompt recovery.



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