E. coli is the name of a type of bacteria that lives in your intestines and in the intestines of animals. Although most types of E. coli are harmless, some types can make you sick.
The worst type of E. coli, known as E. coli O157:H7, causes bloody diarrhea and can sometimes cause kidney failure and even death. E. coli O157:H7 makes a toxin called Shiga toxin and is known as a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). There are many other types of STEC, and some can make you just as sick as E. coli O157:H7.
One severe complication associated with E. coli infection is hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The infection produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, causing kidney injury. HUS can require intensive care, kidney dialysis, and transfusions.
|Incubation Period||1-10 days|
|Symptoms||Severe diarrhea that is often bloody, severe abdominal pain, and vomiting. Usually, little or no fever is present.|
Symptoms of HUS include decreased urine production, dark or tea-colored urine, and facial pallor.
|Duration of Illness||5-10 days. Most people will be better in 6-8 days.|
If HUS develops, it usually occurs after about 1 week.
|What Do I Do?||Drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If you cannot drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration or if your symptoms are severe (including blood in your stools or severe abdominal pain), call your doctor. Antibiotics should not be used to treat this infection.|
|How Can I Prevent It?|
E. coli Infections (NIH MedlinePlus)
Trusted health information on causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
E. coli (CDC)
General information plus details on previous outbreaks.
E. coli Outbreak Investigations (CDC)
Outbreak investigations from October 2006 to the present.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 (USDA)
General information plus directives and notices, compliance guidelines, data collection and reports, and more.