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NPS Arrowhead National Park Service
US Department of the Interior
Office of Public Health 1201 Eye Street, NW
Room 1131
Washington, DC 20005

Phone: 202-513-7215
Fax: 202-371-1349
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Office of Public Health - E. coli (Foodborne) Factsheet
Points Of Contact
Director
(202) 513-7217
Assistant to Director for Science
(202) 513-7097
Epidemiologist
(505) 248-7806
Assistant to Director for Field Operations
(202) 513-7056
National Capitol Region
202-619-7070
Northeast Region
(215) 597-5371
Southeast Region
(404) 507-5730
Mid-West Region
(402) 661-1718
Intermountain Region
(505) 988-6040
Pacific West Region
(510) 817-1375
Alaska Region
(206) 220-4270

Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (E. coli), an emerging source of foodborne illness, causes an estimated 10,000 to 20,0000 cases of infections in the United States each year. Although no cases have yet been reported in the NPS, the potential is growing for such infections and park staffs should be aware of its causes and consequences.

Typical symptoms include abdominal cramping, diarrhea and bloody stools. Occasionally this infection results in kidney failure, causing over 150 deaths per year, primarily among children under 5 years of age and the elderly.

Most illness has been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef at restaurants and in homes. Infection has also occurred after drinking raw apple juice or milk and after swimming in or ingesting sewage- contaminated waters.

A small percentage of cattle are infected with E. coli. The organism can become thoroughly mixed within meat during grinding from beef contaminated during slaughter. E. coli present on cow’s udders and milking equipment can contaminate milk. The organism can also be spread from contaminated hands.

Infections from this strain of E. coli can be prevented by:

  • Thoroughly cooking ground beef (155°F for 15 seconds). The cooked meat should be gray or brown throughout (not pink) and the juices should run clear.
  • Washing and sanitizing utensils after contact with raw ground beef.
  • Washing hands carefully and frequently with soap to reduce risk of spreading E. coli infections (and other infections) from the sick to the healthy.
  • Consuming only pasteurized apple juice and milk and milk products.

Reference:

Health Information, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services.

If you have any questions, please contact your nearest Regional Point of Contact, park sanitarian or call WASO Public Health for more information.

Return to Foodborne Infectious Agents Page