Contaminated meat is the surprising cause of some U.T.I.s

Certain strains of E. coli, a bacteria commonly associated with food poisoning, can lead to painful urinary infections. Photo: Pexels

(Dani Blum/ New York Times) –– Scientists are pointing to a surprising cause of some urinary tract infections: E. coli bacteria in meat. A new study used statistical modeling to estimate that E. coli, commonly known as the bacteria behind many food-borne illnesses, may cause hundreds of thousands of U.T.I.s in the United States annually — likely a small fraction of overall U.T.I.s, but enough to intrigue, and in some cases concern, experts.

The new study looked at chicken, turkey and pork in particular, as previous studies suggested that these foods can become contaminated with the type of E. coli that could induce a U.T.I. Over the last two decades, scientists have increasingly viewed food as a potential source of infection; the new study highlights just how pervasive these food-borne U.T.I.s may be.

A U.T.I. occurs when bacteria enters the urethra and infects the urinary tract. Sometimes an infection develops because of poor hygiene (i.e., not wiping correctly) or from sex, and some people are more anatomically or genetically prone to develop an infection than others. U.T.I.s can be pernicious and painful. (…)