How is E. coli spread?

E. coli bacteria are spread by eating and drinking contaminated food or water, or by putting contaminated objects or hands into the mouth. E. coli can be spread in the following ways:

  • The bacteria can be accidentally mixed into ground beef or raw meat before packaging.
  • If there are bacteria on the udder of a cow during milking, it can contaminate the milk.
  • Sewage and rainwater runoff from contaminated soil can introduce the bacteria into lakes, ponds, rivers, swimming pools, and wells.
  • Raw vegetables, fruits and sprouts grown or washed in contaminated water can spread E. coli.
  • Poor handwashing after a bowel movement or changing a diaper allows bacteria to remain on the hands then get transferred to food and drink or other objects that may go into someone else’s mouth and cause infection.

Show All Answers

1. What is E. coli?
2. How can I tell if I have an E. coli infection?
3. Is E. coli infection dangerous?
4. How is E. coli spread?
5. What can I do to protect myself and my family from E. coli?