E Coli 0157

E. coli 0157 are bacteria which can cause illness ranging from mild diarrhoea to severe inflammation of the large intestine.

What are the Symptoms?

Diarrhoea is the most common symptom; this can be mild and settle within two weeks but it can sometimes be more severe with abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. Some people can be infected but may not show any symptoms. A very small number of cases, particularly in children and the elderly, may develop what is called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), which is a form of acute kidney failure.

Where Does the Infection Come From?

The bacteria are found in the gastro intestinal tract of some domesticated animals. Transmission to humans usually occurs through eating contaminated food stuffs. Out breaks have been associated with undercooked beef burgers, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, unpasteurised milk, contaminated water and vegetables. Infection can also follow contact with infected animals, particularly on petting farms and animal sanctuaries.

What is the Incubation Period?

Usually between 1 and 6 days but may be as long as14 days.

How Can I Minimise the Risk of This Infection?

  • Wash your hands before preparing food and after handling raw meat.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces, equipment and utensils.
  • Ensure that meat is defrosted thoroughly before being thoroughly cooked. This particularly applies to minced beef products.
  • Keep ready to eat foods separate from raw meat at all times.
  • Thoroughly rinse salads, fruit and vegetables in clean, running water.

What Should I Do if I Get This Infection?

  • If the symptoms are severe and/or prolonged, seek medical advice. It is particularly important that young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those already under medical supervision are treated.
  • If a member of the household is suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea, the infection could be passed on to others. Clean and disinfect the toilet, toilet flush, taps and door handle regularly with a disinfectant.
  • Make sure you wash your hands after contact with an infected person.
  • If you work as a food handler, make sure that you tell your supervisor/boss and an Officer from the Food Safety Team.
  • When you visit the doctor, remember to say that you are a food handler (if this applies to you).
If you need further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us. Last Modified: 05/12/2018
For more information contact:

The Food, Health & Safety Team

Tel: 01633 648009

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