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E. coli O157:H7 and other Shiga toxin-producing E. coli

Photomicrograph of escherichia coli o157:h7

Electron micrograph of Escherichia coli o157:h7

Pathogens & Protocols

Why it's a Threat

E. coli causes an estimated 73,000 cases of infection and 61 deaths in the United States each year. Infection often leads to bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and occasionally to kidney failure.

Description

Gram-negative bacteria, straight rods approximately 0.5 micron wide and 2 microns long. Exists as a single organism, in pairs, or in short chains. May possess one or more flagella.

Vehicles

Cattle, deer, and sheep; may also be found in food products including undercooked or raw ground beef, produce, and raw milk.

Prevention

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food.
  • Cook all meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F/70˚C.
  • Avoid raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (like fresh apple cider).More

Remarks

In about 6% of infections, the toxin produced by E. coli O157:H7 causes Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which harms the kidneys and may lead to the failure of other vital organs and death.

Related Links

 
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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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    Atlanta, GA 30333
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  • Contact CDC-INFO
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