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Food and Water Borne Disease: E. Coli

E.coli is a rod-shaped bacterium that subsists in the intestines of both humans and animals. In most cases, the bacterium is harmless and helps digest the food along with the gastrointestinal system. Indispensably other strains of Escherichia coli (E. Coli) such as Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC), Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPIC), and Diffusely Adherent E. coli (DAEC) causes dissimilar infections. The Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) strain is majorly known to cause food and waterborne infections. Consequently, the food contaminating E. coli stain destroys the lining of the intestines leading to severe diarrhoea as the food and waterborne ailment. E. coli is contagious since it can be spread via an oral-faecal route through a lack of thorough cleaning of hands. The STEC bacterium causes food poisoning, leading to foodborne diseases (Park et al., 2018). E. coli intestinal infection is caused mainly by coming into contact with the stool of animals or humans through the intake of contaminated food or water. Therefore, the infectious strain of E. coli is transmitted through contaminated food and water leading to bloody diarrhoea as the central disease.

Consumption of contaminated food and water is the primary cause of food and waterborne disease associated with the E. coli STEC bacterium. The main reservoir of the E Coli O157:H7 pathogen is mainly cattle and is transmitted to humans through raw milk and undercooked meat. Preparation of foods with contaminated beef is another pathway of transmitting the foodborne disease. In this case, food associated with the E Coli O157:H7 bacterium leading to the spread of foodborne disease includes cheese and yoghurt made from raw milk, dried cured salami, undercooked hamburger, and unpasteurized apple cider. E. coli pooping from both animal and human beings results in contamination of water sources (Odonkor & Addo, 2018). consequently, intake of contaminated water results in to spread of waterborne disease associated with E. coli bacterium. The excretion duration of STEC is one week among adults, while it can last longer in children. Nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, and bloody diarrhoea are depicted as the main symptoms linked to E. coli intestinal infection emanation consumption of contaminated foods, fruits and water. The severity of E. coli infection is considerably associated with blood, and kidney symptoms entail bruising, pale skin, fever, weakness and passing out small amounts of urine (Canizalez-Roman et al., 2019). Thus, the development of preventive measures to curtail food-related and waterborne outbreaks of E. coli infections are essential despite the challenges emanating from such attempts.

Practising good personal hygiene is a recommendable preventive measure to minimize the pervasiveness of E. coli infections. E. coli bacterium is easily transmitted from person to person through contact where personal hand hygiene is not practised. Thorough cleaning of hands before preparing, eating or serving food, handling raw meat, vegetable, or roots, using the toilet or even changing diapers, and after contact with farm animals enumerate the essentials of practising hand hygiene. Practising food hygiene is another recommendable approach is preventing the spread of E. coli related infection. Food hygiene can thus be achieved through separating raw foods from cooked, cooking food thoroughly, having the cooking area clean, and keeping food at safe temperatures. Therefore, one should avoid taking unpasteurized beverages such as milk, cider or yoghurt, serve irradiated food to get leadoff microbes, wash raw vegetables and fruit before eating, and cook and serve food at the proper temperatures. Meat should be cooked to at least 71 degrees celsius to effectively kill all the E. coli contamination, which can be successfully done through a food thermometer (Cissé, 2019). The above-mentioned preventive measures are crucial in killing the bacterium associated with food and poor hand hygiene that can live outside the body for months, approximately in the soils for like 130 days, and in water bodies for 27 days.

Another crucial recommendation is the intake of properly treated water. Different water sources should be frequently and routinely diagnosed for E. coli bacterium to a certain the safety of the water. During recreational activities such as swimming, .an individual should avoid swallowing contaminated water to avoid E. coli related infection. One should therefore avoid drinking direct untreated water from shallow wells, rivers, and streams. However, the establishment of more fast foods, demographic change with more people contracting a severe chronic disease, the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat-producing animals, and lack of adequate kitchen hygiene depicts the significant challenges in curtailing the severity of E. coli bacteria. Maintenance of the above measures may be complex since individuals rarely pay close attention to practising hygienic requirements. Therefore, establishing policies governing applying the practices mentioned above is a necessary and sufficient requirement to minimize the detrimental effects of E. coli bacteria (Cissé, 2019). Healthcare facilities should implement patient education on matters to maintain a clean environment as the preliminarily step of avoiding E. coli infections. The public should also be notified that E. coli infections are not treated by anti-diarrhoea or antibiotics due to the severity of the side effects of elevating the infections. Instead, drinking plenty of fluids should be emphasized to prevent dehydration.


Canizalez-Roman, A., Velazquez-Roman, J., Valdez-Flores, M. A., Flores-Villaseñor, H., Vidal, J. E., Muro-Amador, S., … & León-Sicairos, N. (2019). Detection of antimicrobial-resistance diarrheagenic Escherichia coli strains in surface water irrigates food products in the northwest of Mexico. International journal of food microbiology304, 1-10.

Cissé, G. (2019). Food-borne and waterborne diseases under climate change in low-and middle-income countries: Further efforts needed for reducing environmental health exposure risks. Acta Tropica194, 181-188.

Odonkor, S. T., & Addo, K. K. (2018). Prevalence of multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli isolated from drinking water sources. International journal of microbiology2018.

Park, J., Kim, J. S., Kim, S., Shin, E., Oh, K. H., Kim, Y., … & Kim, J. (2018). A waterborne outbreak of multiple diarrhoeagenic Escherichia coli infections associated with drinking water at a school camp. International Journal of Infectious Diseases66, 45-50.


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