LA CROSSE,Wis. (WXOW) – Those cute and cuddly animals you may see at summer fairs could carry a hidden microscopic danger that may harm you and your family: E. Coli bacteria.
E. Coli bacteria is commonly found in the intestines of healthy people and animals and is transferred through the feces of animals or humans. Local health officials said it is not a big deal if E. Coli is on someone hands, but if it gets in someone’s mouth, and goes into their system, then it can cause disease.
“It’s not a big deal if it’s on your hands, but if you get it on your mouth, kids put their hands in their mouths, and then you get it in your system and then it can cause disease,” Paula Silha, Health Educator for the La Crosse County Health Department, said.
E. Coli infection can also come from eating uncooked meats, unpasteurized juice, or the consumption of unwashed fruits or vegetables that may have been fertilized with E. Coli infected animal waste.
E. Coli prevention tips: Practice proper hygiene, especially good handwashing.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and changing diapers.
- Follow the four steps to food safety when preparing food: Clean External, Separate External, Cook External, and Chill External.
Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says the contents have already been washed.
- Cook meats thoroughly:
- To kill harmful germs, cook beef steaks and roasts to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (62.6˚C) and allow to rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove.
- Cook ground beef and pork to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F (70˚C).
- Don’t cause cross-contamination in food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
“Make sure you are using good hand washing,” Silha said. “That really is the first line of defense.”
Kaitlyn Lance, the Agriculture Educator with UW Extension, said farmers have to provide individual health testing records to show animals at fairs.
“There are vet checks at fairs to make sure the animal isn’t sick,” Lance said. “If there is a suspicion that animal is sick, the animal is quarantined.”
Silha said alcohol gels are not as good as hand washing, its the warm water and rapid movement of your hands rubbing together with soap are what gets rid of bacteria and viruses effectively. She recommends people hum the “ABC’s” while washing hands, as this tune, is the appropriate time length the effectively rid someone’s hands of bacteria and viruses.