Escherichia coli (E. coli), is a bacterium which normally lives in the intestines of humans and animals. Some types of E. coli are an important part of a healthy human intestinal system. However, others are pathogenic and can cause illness and diarrhea. E. coli that cause diarrhea can be transmitted through contaminated water and food or through contact with animals or persons. Pathogenic E. coli strains are categorized into pathotypes. Six pathotypes of E. coli are associated with diarrhea and are collectively referred to as diarrheagenic E. coli. They are diffusely adherent E. coli (DAEC), enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), and shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). Major sign and symptoms of E. coli infection include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea and vomiting. Cases of E. coli infection are usually confirmed by the detection of bacteria in stool samples of infected individuals.
E. coli is mainly found in contaminated food, especially undercooked ground beef, soft cheese made from raw milk, unpasteurized (raw) milk and juice, raw fruits and vegetables (such as sprouts), contaminated water, including untreated drinking water, and feces of infected people. Moreover, the bacterium is also present on the body surface of animals, such as sheep, cows, and goats.
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