Three more people in Florida are sick from a recent E. coli outbreak. That brings the total to 17. All but three of them are children who attended the Central Florida Fair in Orlando or the Strawberry Festival in Plant City earlier this month.
This bacterial epidemic may have originated from eating spoiled food or touching animals, but this is not an E. coli problem.
Of course, that?s not what you?re hearing from the media.
In January, a multi-state outbreak of urinary tract infections was traced back to E. coli from contaminated milk or meat
products. Drug resistance from antibiotics given to dairy cows and food animals seems to be the culprit. The drug-resistant E.
coli found in these foods is nearly identical to human strains of E. coli.
Lee W Riley, MD, from the University of California-Berkeley, one of the authors of an article in Clinical Infectious Diseases
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(January 15, 2005), says that "there?s not much people can do" about the problem of increased drug resistance. This plainly isn?t true.
In fact, you don?t have to contract E. coli, even if you come into contact with it.
Many of us are exposed to E. coli and never get sick. After all, there were thousands of other children who attended these events and were fine. More people were exposed to the contaminated meat products than those who came down with urinary tract infections. Bad bacteria makes people sick when there aren?t enough good bacteria
(probiotics) to control them. E. coli outbreaks in children - and adults - may well be a result of eating a junk-food diet high in sugar.
Sugar feeds pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Add a day of sodas, ice cream, and cotton candy to a daily diet already high in sugar and you have a breeding ground for bad bacteria. No wonder most of the infected people were children attending a festival.
There are numerous strains of E. coli. This particular strain causes a kidney disease in a small percentage of people, which is why it made the news. Children and older people are most vulnerable because their immune systems are often compromised.
What you can do:
When you attend any event where there are animals you can touch, be sure to take some antibacterial wipes or gel, like Purell, with you. Clean your hands frequently, especially after petting any animals and before eating.
Eat meat that is well cooked to destroy pathogenic bacteria. Follow good hygiene in your kitchen and don?t let meat products sit unrefrigerated.
Take a good probiotic formula at least one month a year to repopulate your good intestinal bacteria. If you have any travel
plans this summer, now?s the time to do this. But don?t use just any probiotic. Some have little effect. You can find my recommendations for three of the best probiotics I?ve found in the October 2004 issue of my newsletter. Subscribers have access to this article through my website: www.womenshealthletter.com. The user name and password are in
you newsletter. If you?re not a subscriber, you can subscribe through this website.
Eat less refined sugar. The natural sweeteners in fruits feed the good bacteria. Eat more fruit and fewer cakes, cookies, and ice cream. You don?t have to eliminate them completely, but make them an occasional treat rather than a daily indulgence.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Infectious Disease Society of America, April 4, 2005, www.docguide.com.