E. coli 0157:H7 Bacteria

Illness from E. coli 0157:H7 is due to a toxin made by a
virus that lives inside the bacteria.

  1. The DNA of the virus will integrate into the DNA of E. coli 0157:H7.
    It will stay there quietly for generations.
  1. When triggered by a stimulus the viral DNA will leave the E. coli
    DNA, multiply rapidly and step up production of toxins. Antibiotics
    appear to act as one stimulus for this event.
  1. As the viruses multiply, they fill up the bacteria, eventually
    causing it to burst.
  1. New bacteria are infected.

How to prevent food plant contamination

Test all raw ingredients, continually, to ensure the quality of suppliers products. Document results and immediately notify suppliers of any contamination results.

Of utmost importance, a good solid sanitation/cleaning program, with well trained sanitors, and adequate time available to properly clean your facility.

Make certain all employees practice proper hygiene.

All equipment, pallets, packaging materials, etc., entering production areas, must be sanitary.

Knives, slicing equipment, blenders, grinders, or any equipment, penetrating exterior food surfaces, must remain sanitary.

Employees directly handling products must wear CLEAN plastic/rubber gloves. Employees showing signs of illness should not handle products, or remain home.

Floors, tables, packaging equipment, etc., should remain clean and dry during production.

Positive air pressure, in production areas, must be maintained. All air handling equipment must be maintained in a clean and sanitary level, including any drip pans or condensate drain lines.

Maintain HACCP program, and adhere to all program recommendations.

How to prevent infection (public info)

Avoid raw rare or undercooked ground beef make sure the meat is brown (not pink) throughout, the juices run clear and the inside is hot.

Keep raw meat separate from other foods.

Wash hands, counters and utensils with hot soapy water after touching raw meat.

Thoroughly clean knives after cutting meat, fish or shell fish before cutting other foods.

Infected people should wash hands carefully with soap to reduce risk of spreading infection.

Drink bottled water if traveling to places where water quality is uncertain.

Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

Avoid swallowing lake or pool water while swimming.

E. coli 0157:H7 is a potentially fatal strain of bacteria that causes an estimated 73,000 cases of infection and 61 deaths in the US each year.

Life-threatening Illnesses

1 Hemolytic uremic syndrome

  • Most commonly strikes children under five years old and the elderly.
  • Destroys red blood cells
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Treatment: Blood transfusions
  • After-effects: Chronic kidney failure, bowel disorders, blindness,
    stroke or seizures

2 Disease of the central nervous system

  • In adults, infection may progress to this stage, causing seizures
    and coma
  • After effects: Blood clots in the brain; death

3 Non life-threatening Illnesses

  • Bloody diarrhea – Bacteria colonizes in the intestines, producing a
    powerful toxin, causing up to ten days of, severe abdominal cramps;
    watery diarrhea, often bloody; vomiting and nausea; inflammation
  • Treatment: Usually resolves itself
  • After effects: Usually none

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partial source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, JSOnline Sept. 11, 2001