WHAT IS IT?
Escherichia coli (E. coli) are a large and diverse group of bacteria. Most strains are harmless and important to our health, but some kinds of E. coli can cause disease. The most common STEC species in the United States is E. coli O157:H7. STEC infections are estimated to cause 265,000 foodborne illnesses in the United States each year. Infections are more common in the spring and summer. A person can is infected by swallowing the bacteria, typically tiny amounts of human or animal feces. This can happen by:
- Consuming contaminated undercooked ground beef
- Consuming unpasteurized milk, juice and soft cheeses
- Consuming raw vegetables
- Swallowing contaminated water that has not been disinfected
- Visiting/coming into contact with animals (petting zoo).