STEM Sims Logo

E. coli

E. coli Thumbnail
Is this food still good? How do you know if the eggs on a buffet are free of dangerous bacteria? Your challenge is to conduct tests to determine which of four different antibiotics is the most effective at eradicating E. coli.

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

E. coli Brochure

E. coli Brochure

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is a sickness that occurs after eating food or drinking water that contain bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, fever, dehydration, and chills.

What are bacteria?

"Bacteria" is the plural form of the word bacterium. Bacteria are microscopic, single-celled organisms that do not have a nucleus. They also lack other organelles such as mitochondria, the endoplasmic reticulum, and the Golgi apparatus. Bacteria are considered to be microscopic because they cannot be seen without a microscope.

What problems can the E. coli bacteria cause if humans are infected with the bacteria?

Symptoms of E. coli include vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 1 day to more than a week after consuming contaminated food. The symptoms usually clear up after 7 days.

How can bacterial infections be treated?

Most bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics, but antibiotics are typically not used to treat E. coli because they increase the risk of other complications. Most patients with E. coli infections should drink water to make sure they stay hydrated, and must wait for their immune system to take care of the infection on its own. Patients should not take anti-diarrheal medicines because these prohibit the immune system from getting the bacteria out of its immune system.

What are some common types of bacterial probes?

Bacterial probes are new technology that allows the testing for food borne bacteria with almost instantaneous results. One of the types of tests is called an antibody-based test, and consists of a small vibrating beam with antibodies that respond to the presence of a certain bacteria at the end of the beam. When the specific bacteria are present, they bind to the antibodies on the beam and cause the beam to vibrate in a different way. This is detected by the device and the device reports that those bacteria are present. Another type of probe uses heat-shock proteins to detect the presence of certain bacteria. This test is faster and more effective than the antibody-based test.


Please wait while your video loads...
You need to log in to access this simulation.