5 Things to Know About E. Coli and Salmonella

Updated on February 10, 2022

Salmonella and E. coli (Escherichia coli) are common pathogens one can kill using UV disinfection lights and other methods. Both occur in food and can infect the human body, resulting in physical illness and various symptoms.

Some bacteria strains are harmless, and infections can resolve without medication. Other symptoms last for more than a week and require medical attention. Here are five things to know about E. coli and salmonella:

1. Types of Bacteria

E.coli and salmonella are foodborne bacteria that reside in human and animal bodies and can get passed out in feces. The bacteria can contaminate soil, water, food, pets, and surfaces they come in contact with and spread to other places.

Escherichia coli refers to common bacteria residing in human intestines and the intestines of other animals. It is harmless, but some strains can cause illness. One can catch the pathogenic strains from contaminated food and water and potentially from animals and people.

Salmonella is another popular group of bacteria responsible for most foodborne illnesses. The bacteria occur in raw beef, poultry, and eggs. They may occur in unwashed fruits and vegetables. One can also potentially get salmonella from touching some pets.

2. Food Poisoning

Most people get infected when they eat food or drink water contaminated with bacteria. Salmonella is the primary cause of foodborne illnesses, so one can prevent infections by cooking meals, especially meats, properly to the right temperature. You should also make sure to prevent cross contamination. For example, you should not use the same cutting board for raw meats and vegetables. 

Washing fruits and vegetables, warming leftovers, properly storing food, and regular kitchen cleaning will also reduce the likelihood of an infection. Most E. coli strains are harmless to the body but may infect people with weak immunity or underlying conditions, such as children or the elderly. 

3. Infection Symptoms

Salmonella and E. coli have many similar symptoms, given they are both bacterial infections. E. coli infection symptoms occur two to five days after exposure to the harmful microbe. Some people may not show any symptoms but will still spread the bacteria. E. coli symptoms include nausea/vomiting, severe abdominal cramps, fatigue, watery/bloody diarrhea, and fever. 

Salmonella symptoms occur within six hours after exposure, but the bacteria may take up to six days before infecting the body. Common symptoms of salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headache, possible nausea/vomiting, and loss of appetite. Symptoms may take four to six days to resolve without intervention, but some cases require prompt medical attention.

4. Infection Sources

People can catch E. coli from undercooked meats, raw produce, unpasteurized milk, juice, and cider. Contaminated water (lake, stream, river, pond, spring, swimming pool, park fountains) is another source.

Other sources include contact with pets, farm animals, contaminated surfaces, and not washing hands after using a bathroom. The primary source of salmonella infections is contaminated food (beef, poultry, seafood, milk, eggs, and unwashed farm produce).

The bacteria live in the animal intestine and occur in feces. It can travel through multiple contacts, contaminating surfaces, including food. Infections happen when people consume food or water contaminated with human or animal feces.

5. Diagnosis & Treatment

Most E. coli and salmonella infections go undiagnosed because they resolve without treatment. Infected people will fully recover symptoms within seven days. If the symptoms are severe (bloody stool, diarrhea, painful abdominal cramps), seek immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis involves taking a sample of stool to the lab to identify the type of bacteria. One may need IV rehydration to regain fluid lost due to diarrhea. The doctor will also recommend drinking fluids and a treatment plan based on infection severity, age, and overall health.

UV Disinfection for E. coli and Salmonella

UV disinfection offers an ideal solution for protecting homes and spaces from harmful pathogens. UV disinfection methods harness energy to provide powerful disinfection in the air, water, and nonporous surfaces. Food industries like restaurants and food manufacturing facilities can take advantage of UV disinfection methods to help eliminate harmful bacteria.

For more information about UV disinfection methods, contact a company like Violet Defense.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.