Friday, February 2, 2007
Medical Reports: HEALTHCAST: E. coli
In today's Healthcast, the topic of E. coli infections has been in the news a lot lately. Remember the spinach scares a few months ago? Turns out, it is one of the most serious food-bourne illnesses out there. But, as Judy Fortin reports, there are some simple safety steps you can take to prevent it.
WSVN -- Eating unwashed produce or undercooked meat can increase your risk for E. coli infection.
Experts say many of the cases start in a pasture or feed lot.
Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, NYU School of Medicine: "E. coli does live in the digestive tracks of cattle, so, originally, the source is meat. However, we think that somehow, wherever the vegetables were grown or processed, it was contaminated by cattle waste."
That contamination can lead to symptoms in humans like abdominal cramping and diarrhea.
In some cases it can progress to kidney failure and even death.
Antibiotics are not recommended, and medicine to stop diarrhea can sometimes make you sicker.
The centers for disease control urges people to wash their hands before and after handling produce and meat.
Cook all meat thoroughly.
And wash raw produce with running water.
Some experts also suggest taking a closer look at restaurants.
Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa: "Be aware of your surroundings in terms of hygiene. Are the utensils clean? The people who work there, do they appear neat and hygienic?"
There's no foolproof way of preventing food-bourne illness, but some simple steps may go a long way toward keeping you healthy.