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See also E. coli Spinach cases in Wisconsin
E. coli, Escherichia coli, is a foodborne bacteria that can be in your food or water. There are hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli and though most strains are harmless, the E. coli O157:H7 strain produces an extremely powerful toxin that is known to cause infection and death.
People have been known to ingest E.coli bacteria not only in restaurants or at other meals, but also in water. This may occur at a pool, waterslide, lake, or other body of water where people swim, even at a water park.
E. coli infections lead to bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps and in some cases may cause kidney or renal failure and death. Most E. coli illness has been associated with undercooked contaminated ground beef although sprouts, lettuce, salami, unpasteurized milk and juice have also been linked to it. E. coli infection can be prevented by thoroughly cooking ground beef and washing hands carefully and thus, preventive measures on cattle farms, during meat processing, and at restaurants are very important.
If you think you may have an E. coli O157:H7 infection or suffer from bloody diarrhea or severe abdominal cramping, it is obviously important to seek immediate medical treatment.
What is not so obvious, often even to doctors, is to have stools tested for the E. coli bacterium. Most laboratories that culture stool do not test for E.coli O157:H7, so it is important to request that the stool specimen be tested on sorbitol-MacConkey (SMAC) agar for this organism.
Tragically, it is often the elderly or children who die from E.coli related infections. Therefore, if you feel you have any possible reason to believe that the death of a child or elderly loved one was caused by E. coli O157:H7, it is urgent that you request an autopsy and appropriate testing.
It cannot be understated how important it is to have laboratory tests done to detect the E. coli or Escherichia coli bacteria.
Learn more about E. coli at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's E. coli Genome Project or at its Bacteriology Department's Pathogenic E. coli.
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