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E. coli is a common kind of bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and people. There are many strains of E. coli and most do not cause serious illness. However, there are some strains that produce a toxin that can cause severe illness.
These strains are called “shiga toxin-producing E. coli”. E. coli 0157:H7 is the name of one of the most common toxic strains of this type of bacteria. It is found in the intestines of some cattle, deer, goats and sheep.
People with E. coli infection usually have a sudden onset of diarrhea, often with visible blood, and stomach cramps. Most people have no fever or a very low-grade fever. A stool sample tested specifically for E. coli is the best way to determine if someone is infected.
Taking antibiotics or over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicines can make the infection worse. Call your doctor if you experience sudden diarrhea with blood in it.
Yes, it can be dangerous for some. It is especially dangerous for children under the age of five and for the elderly or adults with weakened immune systems. The bacteria can cause kidney failure and bleeding and can lead to death.
E. coli bacteria are spread by eating and drinking contaminated food or water, or by putting contaminated objects or hands into the mouth. E. coli can be spread in the following ways:
Follow these tips to prevent E. coli infection: