E Coli is an infection caused by bacteria. When a child gets infected, he has cramps in muscles and also severe diarrhea associated with blood. Children are affected more and symptoms are severer than the adults and are more common during summer time.
The symptoms start to appear within 10 days of infestation by germs. The problem begins with cramps in abdomen muscles followed by diarrhoea. On the first day water is discharged. There after diarrhoea with a lot of blood is discharged by the patient. Blood is due to sores created by bacteria in the intestines. This continues for 4 to 5 days, thereafter things start to improve. The child has to pass stool about 10 times a day. As a result of diarrhoea, the patient suffers from loss of fluid and consequent dehydration. The patients complaints of nausea but may or may not have fever.
The main causes of E Coli are:
- Consuming uncooked beef.
- Drinking raw milk without boiling or pasteurizing it.
- Drinking dirty water.
- Working with cattle.
- Eating unwashed vegetables etc grown using animal excreta.
Normally animals have E. coli bacteria in intestines. When an animal is slaughtered, the bacteria in intestines spread in meat. Food, especially beef, should be cooked at high temperature and for a long time. These germs spread from person to person at a fast pace. If after going to toilet you do not wash your hands, the germs may be retained and may spread to the person whom you touch.
The existence of E. coli is diagnosed by culture of stool. In case of diarrhoea, immediately consult your doctor. The doctor will get the stool cultured from a diagnostic lab to ascertain the existence of bacteria or germs. Culture test is generally done within 48 hours of starting of the trouble.
A child suffering from E. coli should try to consume maximum possible water. Due to bowel movement a number of times, lot of water is lost, resulting in dehydration. In case you are still dehydrated even after consuming lot of water, you may require immediate intravenous fluid administration. The antibacterial drugs prescribed after culture help to get the intestines rid of bacteria. In extreme cases the red blood cell count decreases and may also result in kidney failure.
Efforts should be made to ensure to prevent infestation. For prevention of contracting E. coli the following will help:
- Wash hands with soap and running water as many times as possible, especially if you are in an environment where there are chances of existence of E. coli bacteria.
- Wash hands before cooking.
- Cook ground beef properly, continue cooking till you do not see pink color. Cooking should be done at 155 degree F.
- Never taste raw beef while cooking.
- Don’t mix cooked and uncooked meat.
- Never keep meat to defrost in the open. Defrost in microwave.
- Drink milk after properly boiling or drink sterilised milk.
- If you have to keep food for some time, keep it in a refrigerator or better freeze it. Even leftover food, if to be consumed later, should be refrigerated.
- Properly wash fruits and vegetables eaten raw. Tubular vegetables which grow underground need proper cleaning.
- Wash hands properly after going to toilet.