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What is E.coli?
Escherichia coli (commonly referred to as E.coli) is a type of bacteria that can be found in the intestines of many animals.
People carry harmless strains of E.coli in their intestines, but can acquire harmful strains if they eat food that has been in contact with animal or human faeces.
These harmful strains of E.coli may then be transferred to other people if an infected person prepares food after going to the toilet and not washing their hands adequately.
There are different strains of E. coli, and some more toxic than others.
Some strains can cause illness in people. Usually, people have diarrhoea that settles within seven days without treatment.
It can also cause food poisoning and is normally spread through traces of animal waste.
For general food poisoning (from any type of bacteria), you should see a doctor if:
The best way of protecting yourself is to wash all raw fruit and vegetables carefully before eating them.
People should also wash their hands carefully after handling unwashed foods to prevent the possibility of any bacteria on your hands spreading.
The most common symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. People may also experience stomach cramps and abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, muscle pains and chills.