E. coli, Water Quality, Food Safety, and Human Health
Escherichia coli, better known as E. coli, is a type of fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans (Figure 1). This bacterium lives and grows naturally in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals, but if the wrong type of E. coli gets into the wrong place in the body, such as the kidneys or blood, it can lead to severe illness, with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever – possibly leading to hospitalization (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 2018). It is difficult to control E.coli bacteria because they are carried within all of us, and they are so small they cannot be seen by the naked eye without a microscope (Ingerson and Reid 2011). These bacteria are shed in feces and people become infected when they unknowingly consume food or water contaminated with E. coli; hence the way E. coli is spread is termed the “fecal-oral” route of transmission.
- food safety
- e coli