Escherichia Coli


Escherichia coli is a bacteria of great importance to the human intestines. It is an important part of the normal intestinal flora and is beneficial for the host.

Escherichia coli

Escherichia coli is a bacteria of great importance to the human intestines. It is an important part of the normal intestinal flora and is beneficial for the host. However, there are pathogenic groups of E.coli, and they can cause severe diarrhea and complications to the human body.​ There are six identified pathogenic groups of E.coli and they are grouped according to their virulence. The recognized by science groups are enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), and diffusely adherent E. coli (DAEC). Some of those groups share similar pathogenic traits. The first 4 groups are transmitted via contaminated water and are linked to foodborne outbreaks worldwide.

Types of E.coli

Incubation Period & Symptoms

Transmission,onset, and symptoms

Infants are the most susceptible to this type of infection, particularly those who are bottle-fed. The reason of EPEC in bottle-fed infants is the use of poor quality water to rehydrate the baby formula.

Transmission,onset, and symptoms

Travelers to developing countries are at risk of contacting ETEC. Infants also most at risk of ETEC infection. As with any infectious disease, people with compromised immune systems could have life-threatening complications.

All people are susceptible to this type of E.coli.

Transmission,onset, and symptoms

EHEC produces Shiga toxin. This toxin can cause serious complications, including bloody diarrhea, blood‐clotting problems, kidney failure, and death. Each one of the population is susceptible to these pathogenic bacteria, but children, elderly, and immunocompromised are more prone to severe complications. 

Transmission & Reservoirs






Keep Clean: Wash your hands before, during and after handling food. Wash utensils, cutting boards, and any surfaces that food touches after each use. Wash fruits and veggies—but not meat, poultry, or eggs.

Separate Raw and Cooked: Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils for raw (uncooked) produce and for raw (uncooked) meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods while shopping and in the refrigerator.

Cook Thoroughly and Keep Food at Safe Temperature: Only a food thermometer can make sure meat, poultry, fish, and casseroles are cooked to a safe internal temperature. For example, internal temperatures should be 145°F or 63°C for whole meats (allow the meat to rest after cooking for 3 minutes at least) and fish, 160°F or 71°C for ground meats, and 165°F or 74°C for all poultry. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.

Chill: Use appliance thermometers to be sure your refrigerator is at or below 40ºF or  4°C and your freezer is 0ºF (-17.78°C) or below. Between 40ºF or 4°C and 140ºF or 60°, C is the Danger Zone, when bacteria can multiply rapidly. Generally, the more bacteria, the more likely someone will get sick. Most refrigerators have just a colder/ warmer adjustment, so the only way to know is to put a thermometer inside.

Thaw Food Properly: Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the countertop. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.

Hand Washing

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
  • Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water. Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. Keep in mind, that sanitizers do not kill all types of germs. If your hands are visibly dirty, soap them then use a sanitizer. They also might not remove chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals from your hands.

The following information is an extract from the World Health Organization (2008). Foodborne Disease Outbreaks: Guidelines for Investigation and Control. Geneva, Switzerland, 2008