How to Prevent E. Coli Infection?

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E coli (Escherichia coli) infection is not uncommon and it is very common in developing and poor counties. There is also no specific treatment available for E. coli infection, because antibiotics need to be avoided and the management has to be done symptomatically. If diarrhea and dehydration is present this need to be corrected with appropriate oral or parenteral fluids according to severity of dehydration. Lost fluid and electrolytes due to diarrhea need to be replaced promptly in case of E. coli infection, which is the right way for management. There is no vaccine available against E. coli infection.

There are various ways to prevent E. coli infection. The preventive measure can be taken according to the common causes of E. coli infection. Preventive measures of E. coli infection include:

  • Wash raw vegetables thoroughly, especially the vegetables (and fruits) that are eaten raw as salad. Washing cannot remove/clear all the bacteria (E. coli) from vegetables (especially leafy vegetables as they may contain lots of spaces available for bacteria to lodge and cannot be washed clean with water only), but can help remove dirt and reduce number of bacteria to a great extent.
  • Drink pasteurized or preferably boiled milk. This can eliminate E. coli bacteria from milk.
  • Cook food at adequate temperature, especially some foods such as hamburgers. Meat need to be cooked at high temperature.
  • Other measures need to be taken for prevention of E. coli infection, such as cleaning utensils properly, keeping raw vegetables separately and washing your hands properly, especially before eating. Keep utensils such as knives, cutting boards etc. clean especially after they come in contact with raw foods (vegetables and meat). It is preferable to use separate cutting boards for raw foods and cooked or eatables to prevent E. coli infection. Washing hands is basic of cleanliness, including preventing E. coli infection. Wash hands with soap properly before eating food, after using toilet, before preparing food and after changing diaper. Make sure to teach your children about benefits of hand wash during childhood itself. Once they learn to wash hands during childhood they will follow it lifelong.

During recovery from E. coli infection, it is important to drink lots of fluid and start solid food gradually. It is also important to avoid certain food items during E. coli infection and during recovery such as dairy products, high fiber foods and fatty foods.

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