A new study found that E. coli bacteria in meat may cause between 480,0000 and 640,000 urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the US per year. The UTIs range in severity, from a mild bladder infection to a potentially fatal illness if it enters the bloodstream. UTIs are responsible for more than 100,000 hospitalizations and 1 million emergency room visits each year. “People often dismiss bladder infections as minor annoyances, but the bladder is a major gateway to a patients’ kidneys and bloodstream,” said study co-author Cindy Liu, associate professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University. Dr. Liu’s study found that 8% of E. coli urinary tract infections could come from contaminated meat. Previously the extent of food-borne E. coli infections was not known. These findings expose a major gap in the US’s food safety system, as health agencies have not enacted rules limiting the amount of UTI-causing E. coli that can be on meat products. The researchers used an innovative technique to link the E. coli in infected patients to the food source, an approach they hope health officials will use to track other harmful bacteria that is not currently monitored in the food supply.
Full Story: USA Today