Nobody likes to be ill, but there are some infections – and germs – that are more unpleasant than others. One of these is E. coli – but just what exactly is it? And is E. coli contagious?
In this article, we answer these questions before looking at the cleaning tips you can follow as part of your E. coli prevention regime.
What is E. coli?
E. coli or Escherichia coli is bacteria that is normally present in the intestines of healthy humans and animals. While usually harmless and asymptomatic, certain types like E. coli O157:H7 can cause severe symptoms which may lead to life-threatening complications.
What are the most common E. coli causes?
- Contaminated food, often unpasteurised dairy products, unwashed fruit and vegetables, and improperly cooked ground beef
- Contaminated water, often ground or surface water found in rural supplies or private wells
- Inter-personal contact with someone with an coli infection
Exposure to even a small amount of a contaminated source can be harmful. While most healthy adults recover within a week of infection, you should take all necessary precautions by avoiding common E. coli causes.
How can you spot E. coli symptoms?
An E. coli infection is commonly characterised by these symptoms:
- Diarrhoea – ranging from mild and watery to severe and mixed with blood
- Abdominal pain, cramps, and tenderness
- Nausea and vomiting
E. coli symptoms usually occur 3-4 days after exposure to the bacteria but some people may become sick earlier or later than that. Contact your doctor immediately if you feel ill.
How does cleaning help E. coli prevention?
If you’re wondering “is E. coli contagious?” then the answer is “yes”. And this means the cleaning is an easy way to help prevent the infection from spreading to others.
There is no vaccine to treat an E. coli infection, so cleaning your home thoroughly and avoiding common triggers of infection are highly recommended. Try these tips:
- Wash fresh produce in water before cooking or eating
- Maintain good personal hygiene by washing your hands regularly
- Always wash your hands after contact with dirty diapers or animals
- Clean your bathroom daily with a strong disinfectant like Domestos
- Do the same for your kitchen, sanitising all work surfaces
- Flush toilets immediately after use, closing the lid first
Wipe your kitchen tops thoroughly with a cleaner like Handy Andy before use
- Use separate chopping boards and utensils for meat and other produce
- Store food securely, and disinfect cupboards and fridges regularly
- Keep raw meat on the bottom shelf of fridges to avoid drips
- Never allow rat and cooked meats to touch one another
- Cook food, particularly meat, to 71°C at its thickest point
Now that you know a little more about E. coli, and how to prevent it with cleaning, you can help keep your family safe from infection.