E. coli are bacteria found in both human and animal intestines.
While most strains are harmless, some are pathogenic and can cause illness, which typically includes stomach cramps and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bacteria can be transmitted through contaminated water or food and sometimes through contact with other people and animals.
While most people recover from E. coli after a few days, some cases can be life-threatening. This is especially true for pregnant women, newborns, older or elderly adults and those with weakened immune systems.
Health officials recommend thorough hand-washing, washing fruits and vegetables, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding cross-contamination in food preparation areas as ways to prevent E. coli illness.
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