Understanding How E. Coli Food Poisoning Works

June 14, 2011

When ingredients come from all over, it's hard to know which one may have caused food poisoning.

It took less than a month for E. coli to sicken thousands and kill 27 people, and no one is quite sure where the source of the outbreak started.

About E. Coli That Causes Food Poisoning

E. coli is actually one of your natural gut bacteria, but there are multiple strains of E. coli, and foreign E. coli strains will make you sick.

Cows and other animals have their own strains of E. coli, which can be present in their waste, which gets turned into manure/fertilizer, which can contaminate plants and then humans.

Animal strains of E. coli can be very hard to treat once humans get infection symptoms; the main complication being that antibiotics, which are generally prescribed for bacteria like E. coli, can actually make you more sick. Antibiotics trigger E. coli to release toxins that complicate the infection symptoms, making the food poisoning even worse.

Prevent Food Poisoning

When it comes to protecting yourself from contamination to food poisoning, it’s mostly a matter of chance. Even in the current European outbreak, scientists are hard pressed to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak of E. coli food poisonings. Even though thousands have been poisoned, pinpointing the offending ingredient in the offending meal can only be done after the fact when memories are fuzzy.

The only thing you can really do is be prepared by keeping the immune system strong. Those that have died from E. coli food poisoning likely had weaker immune systems than the thousands more who only got ill.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Food poisoning can start with mild symptoms (abdominal discomfort) and lead to recognizable symptoms (vomiting and diarrhea) to serious symptoms (dehydration, failure to absorb enough nutrients).

When you start experiencing food poisoning symptoms, it’s important to take fast action. Probiotics and water are a good start. Other herbs may help relieve stomach cramps and spasms, and may even combat food poisoning.

If full food poisoning symptoms progress, make sure to keep hydrated and take in as many nutrients as possible.

How do you feel about the current E. coli outbreak in Europe?

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