Food Illness

Division of Environmental Health: MicrobesCurrently featured are two common agents of bacteria illness.  Other bacteria and agents of disease will be featured in the future.



E. coli 0157:H7 

The bacteria E. coli 0157:H7 lives in the intestinal tracts of mammals and man.  It can be transmitted from animal to animal, animal to man in food, and from person to person through close contact or food.  E. coli 0157 can survive refrigeration and freezer storage.  If present, it can multiply slowly even at 44°F.  Thorough cooking of food to an internal temperature of 155°F for at least 15 seconds is a safeguard against infection.

Undercooked hamburger and roast beef, raw milk, improperly processed cider, contaminated water, and vegetables have caused fatal outbreaks in this country over the last 10 years.

Salmonella

The samonella bacterium includes many strains of bacteria, but only 10 strains cause most of the reported salmonella infections.  The bacteria are common in the intestinal tracts and waste of livestock, poultry, dogs, cats, rats, and other warm-blood animals.

Salmonellosis is the illness that can occur if the salmonella bacteria enters the body; usually through improperly cooked or uncooked food that we eat.  Chicken, turkey, pork, beef, eggs, raw milk, and even raw fruits and vegetables such as sprouts and melons may carry salmonella bacteria.  The strain that is associated most frequently with food borne illnesses is the strain found in poultry.