||National Park Service
US Department of the Interior
|Office of Public Health
||1201 Eye Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
|Office of Public Health - E. coli (Foodborne) Factsheet
|Points Of Contact
|Assistant to Director for Science
|Assistant to Director for Field Operations
|National Capitol Region
|Pacific West Region
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
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
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.
If you have any questions, please contact your nearest Regional Point of Contact,
park sanitarian or call WASO Public Health for more information.
Health Information, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services.
Return to Foodborne Infectious Agents Page