E. coli Infection

Reviewed: August 2017

E. coli are bacteria that normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Although most strains of this bacteria are harmless, several are known to produce toxins that can make you sick and cause diarrhea (loose stool/poop) or vomiting. The type of E. coli bacteria that most commonly produces toxins causing illness is Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC). One of the most common E. coli strains, called E. coli O157:H7, is a STEC that can cause severe diarrhea. People become infected by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the bacteria.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a rare but serious disease that can occur as a complication of an E. coli infection. The disease can cause kidney damage/failure and affect blood clotting functions. Typically, HUS occurs more commonly in children under 5 years of age than in other age groups.

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