ADPH warns of E. Coli bacteria and how to avoid it

A warning comes from the Alabama Department of Public Health about several gastrointestinal...
A warning comes from the Alabama Department of Public Health about several gastrointestinal illnesses in our state. While anyone can become infected, they say young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and kidney problems.(Source: Associated Press)
Published: Apr. 23, 2022 at 10:21 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A warning comes from the Alabama Department of Public Health about several gastrointestinal illnesses in our state. They are currently investigating four E. Coli cases and two rotavirus cases.

Last year, in 2021, ADPH investigated only 113 cases of E. Coli.

While anyone can become infected, they say young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and kidney problems.

Dr. Wes Stubblefield says E. Coli is a bacteria that’s present in the intestines of animals and can show up in fecal material.

The doctor says this cluster of four E. Coli cases is actually a lot for a short period of time so they are searching for a link between them all.

For typical cases though, many seem to stem from meat not cooked all the way through like ground beef.

“That’s one cause -- is undercooked meat,” said Dr. Stubblefield. “Other things that can cause it are cross-contamination of cooking surfaces when prepping undercooked meat or raw meat and of course then it can also be transmitted from person to person with hand hygiene, things like that.”

In a press release, ADPH gives the following tips to reduce the risk of E. Coli and other gastrointestinal illnesses from the CDC:

1. WASH YOUR HANDS thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.

2. WASH YOUR HANDS after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own back yard).

3. COOK meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160 degrees F/70 degrees C. It is best to use a thermometer as color is not a very reliable indicator of “doneness.”

4. AVOID raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products and unpasteurized juices (like fresh apple cider).

5. AVOID swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools and backyard “kiddie” pools.

6. PREVENT cross contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards and utensils after they touch raw meat.

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