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Communicable diseases: 4. Examples of bacterial pathogen communicable diseases - characteristics of salmonella and E. coli

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(4) Examples of bacterial pathogen communicable diseases


(4a) Salmonella is a type of bacteria that causes food poisoning e.g. from contaminated food

The symptoms experienced by infected people with salmonella include diarrhoea, fever, stomach cramps and vomiting.

These very unpleasant effects are caused by toxins produced by the salmonella bacteria.

Salmonella food poisoning is often contracted from animals like chickens catching the disease when alive - if 'undercooked' the salmonella bacterium are not killed and the food infected.

Salmonella can also be contracted and spread by eating contaminated food, food prepared in unhygienic conditions and food that has been stored too long at too high a temperature - allowing salmonella bacteria to multiply.

In the UK, to control the spread of the disease, poultry like chickens and turkeys are given a vaccination against salmonella.

In the US chickens are washed with a chlorine solution to kill the salmonella bacterium - a controversial and banned practice in Europe - including the UK - but post-Brexit, who knows!.

Whatever the poultry source, make sure it is well cooked, and wash your hands before and after food preparation.

With salmonella poisoning, you need to minimise food intake and drink lots of water until things in your gut settle down!


(4b) Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacterium

E.coli bacteria normally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals and are not usually a problem.

Most varieties of the E. coli bacterium are harmless or cause relatively brief diarrhea.

However, there are a few particularly nasty strains of E.coli bacteria which can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

E.coli cells can divide every 20 minutes, so their numbers can rapidly increase!

E. coli are found in water polluted by sewage.

If infected with E.coli bacteria you need to minimise food intake and drink lots of water until things in your gut settle down!


Keywords, phrases and learning objectives for this part on the bacterial pathogens salmonella and E. coli

Be able to describe salmonella bacteria and Escherichia coli E. coli poisoning bacterium in terms of communicable diseases.

Be able to describe their characteristic symptoms and how the infections are transmitted.


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