Strong Evidence Suggests Link Between E. Coli Contaminated Foods and Urinary Tract Infections

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Recently, McGill researcher Amee Manges has discovered that young women may be placed at increased risk of developing urinary tract infections after eating chicken contaminated with the E. Coli bacteria.  This information was collected after a study was conducted in the Montreal area in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, where samples were taken between 2005 and 2007.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) cannot be contracted directly from eating foods contaminated with E. Coli, however the research proved that the bacteria can survive in the intestine without causing symptoms.  In women, the bacteria may then travel from the anal area to the vagina or urethra during sex, which can result in a urinary tract infection.

According to Manges, this should not be cause for great public alarm.  If consumers cook meat thoroughly and take the necessary precautions to prevent E. Coli cross contamination in the kitchen, foods should be safe.  Educating the public on how food poisoning occurs and E. Coli bacteria are spread should help reduce E. Coli outbreaks.

People who are red meat lovers also face a higher risk of becoming infected with E. Coli food poisoning bacteria.  Those who eat red meat regularly can actually be more susceptible to E. Coli than individuals who do not eat red meat on a regular basis.  When consumers eat red meat and dairy products, a sugar molecule known as N-glycolyIneruaminic acid (Neu5Gc) is absorbed, which is a molecule the human body does not produce.  Researchers have found that a bacterial toxin in E. Coli called subtilase cytotoxin targets Neu5Gc, which means that the bacterial toxin found in E. Coli attaches to the cells in the body that have been exposed to Neu5Gc.  This often occurs in the cells of the kidneys and intestinal lining.

E. Coli food poisoning is normally not life threatening, but can cause serious E. Coli health risks in certain individuals.  Young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems should seek medical attention at once if E. Coli symptoms develop to determine a diagnosis.  These symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, which may be bloody.

Those who prepare and manufacture foods should always take special care to wash hands thoroughly after visiting the toilet.  Special attention should be taken as well in the kitchen to prevent possible cross contamination of foods.