Escherichia coli

On November 14, 2012, Rita Bernstein visited Bergen Community College to talk about Escherichia Coli O157:H7. Escherichia coli or better known as E. coli is a tube-shaped bacterium that is found in the stomachs of warm-blooded animals. O157:H7 is a member of the E. coli family, which produces shiga toxin, and are capable of producing bloody diarrhea. E. coli O157:H7 attacks red blood cells, it interrupts flow of oxygen, and it breaks down walls of vessels. E. coli can be found in unexpected things such as: spinach, bagged lettuce, sprouts, cilantro, unpasteurized apple juice and milk, peppers, or cat litter box.

But raw or undercooked ground beef is the most common source of exposure. However, spread of the virus may also be by: Person-to-person, waterborne (such as drinking water or swimming in contaminated water), or airborne. This virus can target infants, young children, and the elderly. There are mild and severe effects. In the mild effect you can suffer from diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and occasional fever may occur but not all of these effects may be present.

On the other hand, in a severe effect you may develop Hemolytic-uremic syndrome and in this case you may suffer from kidney failure, loss of red blood cells, and a decrease in platelets in blood. Usually within hours up to several days patients develop symptoms that might last 5 to 10 days. Rita Bernstein talked about how her daughter, Hailey, suffered from E. coli. Hailey was 3 years old when she caught E. coli from a triple washed ready to eat bagged lettuce. She had suffered Hemolytic – uremic syndrome, and was in a coma for 11 weeks. Hemolytic – uremic syndrome left Hailey blind.

Three months had later, a miracle happened and Hailey started seeing again. Rita couldn’t believe it and she started taking her daughter around the house asking her what is that, what color is it, how many pictures were up in the room and so. But unfortunately, Hailey didn’t regain all of her sight again; the corner of her right eye is blind and she can’t see anything. She also doesn’t know the depth difference. For example she can’t walk down the stairs, to her it seems as if it is a slide. Rita was showing emotions, she started tearing because now she has to suffer with her daughter.

Rita and her husband need to pay a lot of medical bills for Hailey, because there insurance doesn’t cover all of it. Rita used to blame herself for what had happened to her daughter. She used to tell her self “ if I have washed that lettuce again my daughter wouldn’t be in this kind of situation”. Rita used a lot of techniques such as examples of how to prevent E. coli, facts of how many children have been infected with E. coli since 1990, she had a sense of humor, and she didn’t want us to sympathy with her. Rita Bernstein is not a professional speaker.

Her thoughts were not organized; it took me a while to put the information together. When she got up she told us she wanted us to ask her questions and she would answer but she never told us the story about her daughter. Luckily my professor showed his class a video about Rita Bernstein daughter’s condition and that is how we understood what was going on. Bernstein’s verbal delivery was good every body heard her, she was talking in a good rate, and her pitch would change depending on what subject we were talking about. She also kept eye contact with her audience, she moved around the room when she was asked a question.

Rita Bernstein did well by showing divided attention to every single one of her audience. She also took the time to answer every single question, even though she was running out of time. She also didn’t mind explaining to us if we didn’t understand anything and that was great. I personally feel like she could have done a much better job. First by telling us the story about what had happened to her daughter and what caused it exactly. Because she started telling us something about taking her daughters to eat a hamburger then about a salad she made home. It was confusing.