E. coli is the name of a type of bacteria that lives in your intestines. Most types of E. coli are harmless. However, some types can make you sick and cause diarrhea. One type causes travelers' diarrhea. The worst type of E. coli causes bloody diarrhea, and can sometimes cause kidney failure and even death. These problems are most likely to occur in children and in adults with weak immune systems.
You can get E. coli infections by eating foods containing the bacteria. Symptoms of infection include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Severe abdominal cramps
- Watery or very bloody diarrhea
To help avoid food poisoning and prevent infection, handle food safely. Cook meat well, wash fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking them, and avoid unpasteurized milk and juices. You can also get the infection by swallowing water in a swimming pool contaminated with human waste.
Most cases of E. coli infection get better without treatment in 5 to 10 days.
- E. coli and Food Safety (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Ground Beef and Food Safety (Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service)
- Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- How to Stay Healthy around Farm Animals (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Escherichia coli Infections (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Characteristics of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli Circulating in Asymptomatic Food Handlers.
- Article: Network analysis of patterns and relevance of enteric pathogen co-infections among...
- Article: Resistome and virulome of high-risk pandemic clones of multidrug-resistant extra-intestinal pathogenic...
- E. Coli Infections -- see more articles