"If you practice good personal hygiene, good food hygiene and good home hygiene, we can reduce the number of infections," he suggested. Proper hand washing should last for 20 seconds. "Wash in between your [fingers] and under your nails," Tierno said. "When dealing with counter surfaces, use a product that can disinfect surfaces and prevent cross-contamination."
Cooking also helps kill disease-causing bugs. "Eat nothing raw. Cook it well, and if you are eating vegetables, make sure to soak them and wash them well," he said.
The solution is definitely not to throw more antibiotics at livestock, Tierno agreed. As far as preventing E. coli in chicken coops, "we need a better system developed to raise chickens so they are not raised in crowded conditions and prone to diseases like E. coli," he explained.
Good hygiene is never a bad idea, but the truth is that E. coli is everywhere, said Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "The best defense against urinary tract infections is to exercise, eat well and get proper sleep so your immune system is strong and can fend off what you can't see, including E. coli," she said. "Be healthy, wash your hands, take care of yourself and when you have a urinary tract infection, see your doctor for an antibiotic to treat it."
Learn more about food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
SOURCES: Amee Manges, Ph.D., M.P.H., department of epidemiology, biostatistics and occupational health, McGill University, Montreal; Philip Tierno, Ph.D., director, clinical microbiology and immunology, NYU Langone Medical Cent
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