E. Coli O157:H7 is a foodborne pathogen that was discovered in 1982 during an outbreak of hemorrhagic colitis due to contaminated hamburgers. Since then, the toxin has been identified in a variety of different food sources including ground beef, sausages, orange juice, lettuce, spinach, or even water. This dangerous bacteria can lead to fatal complications, especially in young children, elderly individuals, and those with a weakened immune system.
Cases of this disease can range from mild to severe. The potential complications caused by this bacteria include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Severe cramps
- Bloody diarrhea
- Bowel necrosis
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
- Acute kidney failure
Recent estimates conclude that over 70,000 Americans fall victim to E.Coli bacterial infections every year. The symptoms usually last for about one week; in healthy individuals with mild cases, symptoms will usually fade without causing long-term damage or requiring intensive treatment. Some cases may require treatment with antibiotics, and potentially hospitalization for health monitoring and administration of fluids. One of the primary risks of this disease is the threat of dehydration. Without treatment, a severe infection of this bacteria can be fatal.
About five to fifteen percent of these cases can develop into HUS, which can be life threatening. Children, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems or other pre-existing health problems are especially vulnerable to dangerous medical complications related to this disease. No one should have to suffer any negative side effects or HUS because of the food they eat, especially when they are prepared in an improper manner.