Fast Facts: E. Coli

Facts and figures about the E. coli bacterium:

E. coli is:

--A form of bacteria that commonly lives in the human body.

--One strain releases a toxin that can cause severe illness.

--The germ is present in uncooked beef, unpasteurized milk and juice, and on raw sprouts and lettuce.

Symptoms include:

--Abdominal cramps.

--Severe, often bloody, diarrhea.

--Kidney failure in the young, elderly or people with weak immune systems.

If you have an E. coli infection:

--You don't need to take antibiotics.

--It will probably go away in five to 10 days.

--Young children and the elderly could be hospitalized to treat kidney failure.

Every year in the U.S.:

--Approximately 73,000 people contract E. coli.

--Approximately 61 people die from the infection.

Ways to prevent contracting E. coli:

--Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

--Cook all ground beef and meat.

--Drink only pasteurized milk and juice.

--Don't swallow water in lakes or public pools.

If you get E. coli, try to avoid infecting others:

--Don't prepare food for others.

--Bathe alone.

--Don't swim in public places.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention