I knew about E.coli and other food born pathogens, but I didn't know that much. Basically since I was a kid I was told to not leave food out and make sure it was cooked all the way through and as a person that has horrible luck I always made sure all meet I got was well done. After reading the chapter 9 in Fast food Nation by Eric Schlosser I was shocked by how bad food poisoning from E.coli O157:H7 really was.
E.coli is passed from one person or animal to another through fecal to oral contact. This means that to get e.coli you must have ingested the fecal matter of what you just ate like a cow. The period in which it takes for the E.coli to begin to effect a person is about 3 to 4 days but has been known to take up to ten days. What makes E.coli O157:H7 so bad and different from other stains of E.coli is that it releases a toxin known as Shiga toxin. The Shiga toxin is one of the most potent toxins to humans and could become a possible bio hazard used by terrorists. It is speculated that this strain of e.coli was infected by a virus that gave it the ability to produce shiga toxin.
Most E.coli infections usually end in the person hydrating and waiting the e.coli to get out of their system. The danger in E.coli, mainly to children and the elderly, are the possible deadly complications. One complication is Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is characterized by platelets becoming a mesh that kills the red blood cells in the human body. The lack of red blood cells lowers blood flow in the body. The brain, spine and kidney's are the parts of the body effected the worst leading to renal failure and brain damage. About 10% of E.coli O157:H7 cases end up in HUS for the infected.
The worst part of an infection by E.coli O157:H7 is that antibiotics are usually never used due to two factors. The first is that as time goes on more and more strains of e.coli and other bacteria are becoming immune to our antibiotics, which is being counteracted by decreased use. The other is that antibiotics can actually cause the e.coli to release more shiga toxin, possible killing the infected person. Hydration is the major way of attacking, or really pushing, e.coli till it is out of the person's system.
What is truely amazing is that E.coli really isn't to blame, other stands of e.coli are in our bodies know helping us digest. The real blame comes down to us, this monster we created because of our want for cheap, bulk beef turned E.coli from humans helper to the scourge of our race. Like many other Pandora's boxes we have opened, E.coli O157:H7 is a mess we will have to clean up.