UK Study on Transmittance of ESBL-E. coli Revisits Commonality of Person-Person Transmitted Disease
After a study in the United Kingdom (UK) on the transmittance of ESBL- E. coli, the researchers concluded that personal hygiene plays the dominant role in its transmittance.
In this particular study, researchers were looking at the spread of different strains of ESBL-E coli. ESBL-E. Coli stands for Extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli (ESBL-E coli). This particular strain of E. coli is an important topic of study because of its ability to produce antibiotic-resistant enzymes, poses a threat to future antibiotic efficacy.
The Researchers received and tested thousands of routine feces samples in 2014. They also studied food contamination by taking samples of chicken, beef, pork, fruite, and salad. Both feces and food were tested for various strains of ESBL-E. coli and categorized based on the type and frequency of ESBL-E. Coli presence. Overall, the researchers concluded that the largest amount of contamination was present in feces rather than the food samples. This lead to the conclusion that the transmittance of ESBL-E. coli is predominantly through fecal-oral route rather than food-poisoning. Preventative hygiene during food preparation and animal husbandry remains necessary due to many other types of bacterial infections which are transmitted via food. However, David Livermore, PhD, University of East Anglia Norwich Medical School says that in fact, “the great majority of strains of ESBL-E coli causing human infections aren’t coming from eating chicken, or anything else in the food chain.” rather poor personal hygiene.
ESBL-E. Coli is only one of the many pathogens predominantly spread through person-to-person contact. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published a list of the top 5 most common pathogens transmitted through poor personal hygiene, especially via the fecal-oral route. The ‘Big 5,’ include Norovirus, the Hepatitis A virus, Salmonella Typhi, Shigella spp., and Escherichia coli (E.coli) O157:H7 or other Enterohemorrhagic or Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.
It is important that people recognize the importance of practicing personal hygiene, particularly proper bathroom etiquette. According to the CDC, feces “can get onto hands after people use the toilet or change a diaper [or]…after handling raw meats that have invisible amounts of animal poop on them.” Furthermore, “A single gram of human feces—which is about the weight of a paper clip—can contain one trillion germs 1.” Consumers may notice in almost all retail bathrooms a notice to its employees to wash their hands before returning to work.
Hand washing may seem like a small thing. But according to national food safety lawyer Ron Simon, ” in almost every outbreak, there is some element of personal hygiene that comes into play.” And in fact, research by the CDC shows that hand washing education in a community:
- Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40% 2, 3, 6
- Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58% 4
- Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21% 3, 5
- Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57% 7