How to Prevent E. coli Infection
Good hygienic practices remain the key in preventing members of your family from becoming infected by the E. coli bacteria. Dr. Tan recommends the following to help families avoid infection:
- Practice good hand-washing measures.
- All milk, dairy products, and juices consumed should be pasteurized.
- Don't thaw food on the counter or let it sit out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
- Wash hands, cooking utensils, and work areas with hot, soapy water after handling raw meat.
- Be sure all meat is cooked thoroughly so that no pink meat remains and the juices are clear.
If you and your family plan on traveling overseas, Dr. Tan also suggests the following: "Drink only bottled or canned beverages and bottled or boiled water, avoid ice, salads, and fruit that they have not peeled themselves, and eat only cooked and hot food whenever possible."
If your family plans on visiting any petting zoo throughout the United States, always be on the lookout for hand washing/hygienic areas at petting zoos. Dr. Muszynski advises parents and caregivers to call ahead and ask about hygienic facilities—and if the facitilies are unavailable, don't go. Since young children, especially those younger than five years of age are at greatest risk for E. coli infection, parents should monitor their activities around the animals and make sure their children are not "touching their mouths, sucking their thumbs, or eating anything," says Dr. Muszynski. "If anyone develops diarrhea within 10 days after contact with farm animals, be sure to relay this information to your doctor," he adds.