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Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a type
of coliform bacteria, normally found in human and other warm-blooded animal
intestines, that normally suppresses the growth of harmful bacteria and
Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins 1992] E. coli is
an indicator of fecal contamination when found in water. Tests that indicate
the presence or absence of E. coli are often used to measure the
safety of water supplies.
A small number of E. coli strains can cause illness in humans. E. coli 0157:H7 is a strain that is normally found only in cows. This strain produces large amounts of toxins which can cause severe damage to the lining of the intestine.[E.coli Primer]. E. coli 0157:H7 can survive for many weeks in lakes, reservoirs, and municipal water.[Research Shows E. Coli 0157:H7 Can Survive Many Weeks In Coldest Water]. Infection by this bacteria most often occurs through the consumption of undercooked beef, unpasteurized milk, and unpasteurized apple cider ( the apples had fallen into cow manure).[E.coli Primer]. Meat (beef) can become contaminated with intestinal E. coli when the animal is slaughtered. If the beef is ground the bacteria is spread throughout the meat.[E.coli 0157:H7 Facts for the Public]. The bacteria cannot be killed by freezing but it can be killed by heating to 155 degrees F (meat must be cooked completely through with the juices running clear). Someone infected with the bacteria can transmit it to other persons through fecal contamination. Hands and surfaces must be washed thoroughly with soap and hot water after contact with raw meat, after using the toilet, and changing baby diapers. [E.coli Primer].
Symptoms of E. coli illness are severe abdominal cramps and severe diarrhea which may become bloody.[Like your burgers on the raw side? E. coli may give you a raw deal: death.]. In some victims there may be vomiting, nausea, and a low grade fever. The infection may lead to kidney failure in the elderly and in children.[Answering Your Questions on E. coli].
Drinking water (tap water) in America has been considered clean and safe to drink for most of the 20th century. Chlorination of drinking water was begun in 1907 to kill bacteria such as those causing cholera, dysentery, and typhoid. During 1994-1995 the drinking water of more than 45 million Americans was contaminated with fecal matter, parasites, disease causing microbes, pesticides, toxic chemicals and lead.[Just Add Water Executive Summary]. [Drinking Water and Food Safety].
The United States Environmental Protection Agency
E.coli standards for recreational water are no more than 126 E.coli
Bacteria A Measure of Water Pollution]. Between 1991 and 1995 there
have been 3 reported outbreaks of lake-associated E. coli infections.
One of these outbreaks took place in Northern Illinois on July 5, 1995.
Five cases of E.coli 0157:H7 were reported in children. There were
no common food sources among the five victims, however all 5 swam in the
same lake within a two day period. The local health department investigated
this incident and their findings indicated that ingesting contaminated
and untreated lake water can result in infection.[CDC