The bacteria E. coli originates in the intestinal lining of both animals and humans. Also known as Escherichia coli, the bacteria, while abundant, is typically harmless. However, several strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, are dangerous and pose severe health risks.
E. coli is often spread by the consumption of contaminated meat, but it can also be present in the environment. E. coli can also be found in surface water from improper runoff of livestock or sewage contamination. To avoid infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise consumers to wash their hands frequently, to avoid swallowing water while swimming and to cook all meats thoroughly to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.