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Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a leading cause of foodborne illness. Based on a 1999 estimate, 73,000 cases of infection and 61 deaths occur in the United States each year.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection often causes severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Sometimes the infection causes non-bloody diarrhea or no symptoms. Usually little or no fever is present, and the illness resolves in five to ten days. In some persons, particularly children under 5 years of age and the elderly , the infection can also cause a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), in which the red blood cells are destroyed and the kidneys fail.
People can become infected with E.coli O157:H7 in a variety of ways. Though most illness has been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef, people have also become ill from eating contaminated bean sprouts or fresh leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach. Person-to-person contact in families and childcare centers is also a known mode of transmission. In addition, infection can occur after drinking raw milk and after swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water.
Consumers can prevent E. coli O157:H7 infection by thoroughly cooking ground beef, avoiding unpasteurized milk, and by washing hands carefully before preparing or eating food. Fruits and vegetables should be washed well, but washing may not remove all contamination. Public service announcements on television, radio, or in the newspapers will advise you which foods to avoid in the event of an outbreak.
For more information please go to www.cdc.gov.
Healthcare Providers: For communicable disease information, please see the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Communicable Disease Manual.
Respiratory infections such as influenza and the common cold are most often spread when infected people cough and sneeze and others come into contact with those droplets - either in the air or on objects touched by both groups. The best way to prevent infection is to practice good health habits:
Wash your hands regularly.
Cover your cough and sneeze.
Stay home when you are ill.
Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
When covering your cough or sneeze most people use their hands, thinking this will prevent others from becoming ill. Unfortunately, our hands spread the virus many more places after covering our cough or sneeze. Watch this video to learn more about properly covering your cough and sneeze.