E. coli O157:H7 is a bacterium that can produce a deadly toxin and has a reservoir in cattle and other similar animals. Infections from E. coli O157:H7 are estimated at 95,000 cases per year. While most E. coli are normal residents of our small intestine and aid in digestion and enable our bodies to create vitamin K, there are some strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, that can cause severe illness in people and animals. Sources: Meat, especially undercooked or raw hamburger,uncooked produce, raw milk, unpasteurized juice, and contaminated water.
Human illness typically follows consumption of food or water that has been contaminated with microscopic amounts of cow feces. Incubation: Usually 3 to 4 days after ingestion, but may occur anywhere from 1 to 10 days after ingestion . The illness it causes is often a severe and bloody diarrhea and painful abdominal cramps, without much fever . Duration of sickness: 5 to 10 days. In 3% to 5% of cases, a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can occur several weeks after the initial symptoms. This severe complication includes temporary anemia, profuse bleeding, and kidney failure. In young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems, this pathogen can cause kidney damage that can lead to death.