Also read: After toddler’s death, Poland dad warns others of E. coli danger

The Basics

* E.coli, full name Escherichia coli, is a bacteria found mostly in the intestines of humans and animals.

* Most strains are harmless and are an important part of a healthy intestinal tract.

* There are some specific strains that are pathogenic, which means they can make you sick.

* These strains can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or persons.

* HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome) is when an infection becomes more severe, resulting in kidney failure.

Q: How can I get it?

A: The most common way to contract pathogenic E.coli is when contaminated feces enter the mouth, which can actually happen in a lot of different ways. Some of these are: swallowing lake water, contact with animals and the environment at a petting zoo and, most commonly, eating under-cooked food that is infected. 

Q: Who is most susceptible? 

A: People of any age can contract E.coli, but most cases of HUS occur in people with compromised immune systems, usually children younger than five and seniors.

Q: What are the most common symptoms?

A: Severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting.

Q: What are treatment options?

A: Drink lots of water and rest. Taking antibiotics and antidiarrheal medicine can make the infection worse. Most cases clear up within five-10 days.

Q: How prevalent is pathogenic E.coli?

A: There are an estimated 265,000 diagnosed cases annually in the U.S.

How to prevent pathogenic E.coli:

* Don’t drink raw milk

* Always wash your hands

* Cook meats thoroughly

* Don’t swallow water when swimming

* Keep food preparation and eating areas clean and disinfected

If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, contact a doctor or medical professional immediately.

(Sources: and

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: