E-coli is a term that can strike fear into people. We all know it as a nasty infection that can cause some pretty unpleasant symptoms. But how do you get e-coli and where does e-coli come from? Here’s a basic guide to what causes e-coli and e-coli prevention.
What is e-coli?
The full name of e-coli is Escherichia coli. It’s a type of bacteria usually found in the guts of both humans and other animals and it can cause food poisoning.
What causes e-coli infection?
So now we know what it is, how do you get e-coli as an infection? Here are some of the most common ways:
- Eating foods which contain the bacteria, most commonly raw, leafy vegetables, such as spinach or lettuce, undercooked meats, milk (raw) and its related products e.g. butter, cream, yogurt or cheese.
- Touching infected animals or people, especially if you come into contact with their faeces (e.g. if hands aren’t washed after going to the toilet or you’re changing nappies).
- Contaminated water supplies – both ingesting them and swimming/playing in them such as ponds, rivers or streams.
What are the symptoms of an e-coli infection?
Symptoms of e-coli vary so if you’re at all unsure, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional. However, the main symptoms of an e-coli infection are:
- Blood in your faeces
- Stomach cramps
Symptoms can last up to two weeks, although the time it takes for it to get out of your system can vary.
E-coli prevention: How to prevent e-coli infection
E-coli is very infectious so if you or someone you know comes down with the virus, it’s important to follow strict hygiene standards. The most important of these is to wash your hands regularly and at the following times:
- After contact with animals
- After contact with an infected person or their clothes/bedding
- After going to the toilet
- After changing babies’ nappies
- Before and after preparing food/eating meals
- After cleaning, even if you used protective gloves
If you’ve been infected with this bug, don’t cook or prepare food for either yourself or other people for at least 48 hours after the symptoms have cleared up.
How to prevent e-coli in the home
If someone in your house gets sick, there are some important things you can do to minimise the risk of it spreading. Wash any clothing or bed linen used by the person at the highest temperature on your machine (usually 60 degrees centigrade) and make sure to do so separately from non-infected items. Clean toilet seats, flush handles, basin taps, surfaces and door handles daily using hot water and detergent. Dispose of clothes used for cleaning in a plastic bag and seal these before placing in household waste.
To prevent the spread of e-coli in general, make sure to minimise the germs in your house. Use tried and tested cleaning brands like Cif and Domestos to eradicate bacteria. Clean away any visible dirt first before wiping with anti-bacteria substances for a germ-free finish.
There’s no need to be scared of e-coli as there are lots of things you can do to prevent it. Follow these simple steps and enjoy a clean, infection-free home!