Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Escherichia coli, more commonly referred to as E. coli, is a common bacteria, and one of the many types of bacteria that lives and works within a person’s digestive system. Most species of E. coli do not pose any threat to humans; however, some can cause serious disease, such as those heard about recently in the news. These dangerous strains of E. coli are a major cause of diarrhea, which can range from mild to severe.
E. coli, since it is common in stool, can end up in food or water hat has been contaminated with it. Undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized milk, raw fruits and vegetables, and swimming pool water are common sources of E. coli. Children can also get urinary tract infections from E. coli, if the bacteria from their stool get into their urinary tract. It is also a common cause of sepsis (a blood infection) and meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in newborns.
Symptoms of E. coli infection usually start about 7 days after exposure to the germ and may include:
Diarrhea which can be short-term or chronic, and can be accompanied by abdominal pain, blood in the stool or a high fever.
Children may develop hemolytic anemia, which is a low red blood cell count and can cause kidney failure.
Burning when urinating and an increase in urination if the infection is in the urinary tract
Infected newborns may develop pauses in breathing, poor feeding, temperature that is either too high or too low, irritability, or excessive sleepiness.
There is no special way to treat an E. coli infection other than drinking a lot of water and watching for complications. Medicine to stop diarrhea should not be taken unless prescribed by your doctor because it will keep the germs in the intestines.
You can prevent the spread of E. coli by:
Washing hands carefully with soap before cooking
Cooking ground beef thoroughly to at least 155?F
Defrosting meat in the refrigerator or microwave instead of letting it sit on the counter to defrost.
Keeping raw meat and poultry separate from other foods.
Putting cooked hamburgers on a clean plate
Not drinking milk or apple juice that has not been pasteurized
Keeping food refrigerated or frozen
Refrigerating leftovers immediately or throw them away
Washing carefully hands if you have diarrhea, using hot water and soap for at least 30 seconds.
Not letting your child swim in pools or at water parks if he or she has diarrhea.
Teaching your child not to swallow swimming pool water.
Though the infection usually clears on its own, if your child becomes dehydrated, he or she may require hospitalization. If your child has blood in his or her stool, call your pediatrician.