What is' E. coli?
It is a common bacterium that lives in the intestines of animals and humans. There are many strains of 'E. coli ', mostly harmless, although there is a variety,' E. coli '0157: H7 produces a powerful toxin (Shiga) and can cause serious diseases such as hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can result in kidney failure.
The 'E. coli 'O157: H7 was first recognized as a cause of illness in 1982 during an outbreak of severe bloody diarrhea in the U.S. It was determined that the source was contaminated hamburgers. The combination of letters and numbers in the name of bacteria refers to specific markers found on its surface and distinguishes it from other types of "E. coli '.
How is it spread?
Outbreaks often occur when bacteria get into food for human consumption. The meat of cattle is often the main source of infection, especially the bite and that is not cooked enough. The organism is also found in the udders of cows and get milk that is not pasteurized.
Raw vegetables that have been grown or washed in contaminated water or have come in contact with feces from infected animals (or with natural fertilizers) can also be carriers of the bacteria. It can also be found in drinking water, lakes or pools with sewage. "It spreads also if people do not wash their hands after going to the bathroom," says the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S.
What causes symptoms?
Begins at about seven days of infection occur. The first sign is severe abdominal cramps that start suddenly. After a few hours there is bloody diarrhea lasting two to five days. May cause mild fever (not always), nausea and vomiting.
What complications can be infection 'E. coli '?
According Altes Avelino Gutierrez, Chief of Microbiology at the Hospital La Paz in Madrid, "in most cases there is only one box enterocolitis (bloody diarrhea) without sequelae if treated properly. If developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (more serious situation) could have chronic renal impairment and even death, especially in patients with already weakened basal conditions (immunocompromised elderly and children).
How to protect yourself from the bacteria?
Thoroughly cook ground beef "at temperatures above 70 ° C, and the case of vegetables, do a wash correct them if they are to consume uncooked [soaking in bleach or a product specifically for vegetables]" insists Avelino Gutierrez.
It is important to keep raw meat separate from other foods. Should be washed with hot soapy water surfaces used in the kitchen and never serve cooked meat on the plate where it was before going through the fire.
¿'E. coli 'food infection is more frequent and more severe?
"It is the most common, nor the worst. Severity depends on the occurrence of hemolytic uremic syndrome, and it can be developed with other bacteria," says microbiologist of La Paz.
What may be the severity of the outbreak in Germany?
Ana Isabel Vitas, Professor of Food Safety at the University of Navarra recognizes that "the data are coming from Germany speak of one strain, 0104: H4 is very similar to O157: H7 and also causing enterocolitis".
For Jordi Vila, head of the Microbiology Unit of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, one of the reasons lies in "the number of people consuming the contaminated food, since they increase the likelihood that give more serious infections in vulnerable people such as Children. dose dependent also infected consumed, a food with 50 or 100 bacteria of 'E. coli' and cause infection. "
How is the infection?
"Therapy is directed primarily to treat the symptoms (diarrhea, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, organ failure, etc..). Antibiotic treatment of choice because it would not damage it produces a toxin, not the bacteria itself." The same view is shown Vila microbiologist: "There is much controversy over the use of antibiotics. Studies have shown that bacteria decreases but remains more toxin-free, so it is not recommended."
Can infection 'E. coli 'is common in Spain?
Professor Vitas states that it is "as common as in the U.S., which consumes a lot of meat and especially burgers. Though also be caused by other foods, such as vegetables and poorly washed raw milk. Truth is that in our country there is very common. "
El Mundo Salud by Patricia Matey