• Escherichia coli Infection

    (E. coli Infection, Escherichia coli O157:H7)


    Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection is caused by a bacterium. It is the leading cause of bloody diarrhea.


    This infection is caused by some types of the E. coli bacteria. Most E. coli infections are caused by:
    • Eating undercooked beef, especially ground beef
    • Drinking contaminated water
    • Drinking unpasteurized milk
    • Working with cattle
    Digestive Pathway Through Stomach and Intestines
    Digestive pathway
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    Risk Factors

    This condition is more common in children and older adults.
    Factors that increase your chance of developing E. coli infection include:
    • People with another illness
    • Working with cattle
    • Living in northern states


    Symptoms of E. coli infection include:


    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your waste material may be tested. This can be done with a stool culture.


    Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include:

    Fluid Replacement and Monitoring

    Most people will get better in 5-10 days. They rarely need a specific treatment. Avoid medication that stops diarrhea. Drink plenty of water and fluids. Fluids through an IV line may be needed in cases of severe dehydration.

    Treatment for Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)

    HUS is a life-threatening condition. It occurs in some people with E. coli infection. HUS may need to be treated with blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Symptoms may include:
    • Pale complexion, tiredness, and irritability
    • Small, unexplained bruises, or bleeding from the nose or mouth—caused by problems in the body’s clotting mechanism
    Kidney Dialysis
    Dialysis pump
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    To help prevent E. coli infection:
    • Cook all ground beef and hamburger thoroughly.
    • Avoid eating undercooked hamburger or other ground beef.
    • Keep raw meats separate from ready-to-eat foods.
    • Wash hands, counters, and utensils with hot soapy water after they are exposed to raw meat.
    • Drink only pasteurized milk, juice, and cider.
    • Wash fruits and vegetables under running water.
    • Drink municipal water that has been treated with a disinfectant.
    • Wash hands after bowel movements and after changing soiled diapers.


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov


    Canadian Food Inspection Agency http://www.inspection.gc.ca

    Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca


    E. coli infection. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/ecoli-infection.html. Updated April 2014. Accessed December 18, 2014.

    E. coli (Escherichia coli). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli. Updated December 1, 2014. Accessed December 18, 2014.

    Frequently asked questions about Escherichia coli infection. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services website. Available at: http://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/factsheets/f%5Fecoli.pdf. Accessed December 18, 2014.

    Revision Information

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