Advertisement

What is E. coli?

Leigh Vinocur, MD
Emergency Medicine
E coli is a bacterium that lives in the intestines of animals and people. Many strains don’t cause disease inside the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract, but can be harmful outside of it. However there are pathogenic (disease causing) strains that can cause illness inside the intestines, non-pathogenic E Coli is a major cause of traveler’s diarrhea (40-60% of cases.) It is primarily caused from unsanitary conditions where human or animal fecal contamination occurs. Drinking contaminated water infects individuals, as well as using ice made from that water or eating unpeeled fruit washed with contaminated water.
Patricia Raymond, MD
Gastroenterology
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterial pathogen that causes moderate to severe illness that begins as large amounts of watery diarrhea and then turns into bloody diarrhea. There are many different types of this bacterium. The worst strain can cause kidney failure and death (about 3% to 5% of all cases). It is transmitted by eating raw or undercooked hamburger, unpasteurized milk or juices, or contaminated well water.
E. coli is the name of a bacterium 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.

Continue Learning about E-Coli Food Poisoning

E. coli: What You Need to Know
E. coli: What You Need to Know
In the United States alone, about 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses each year. But only 128,000 of these people are hospitalized as ...
Read More
How can E. coli infections be prevented?
Garrett Shepherd , NASM Elite TrainerGarrett Shepherd , NASM Elite Trainer
Make sure you are eating clean, well-cooked foods and wash your hands often.
More Answers
What is enterohemorrhagic E. Coli?
Leigh Vinocur, MDLeigh Vinocur, MD
A more dangerous strain of E Coli is E Coli 0157:H7, also called enterohemorrhagic E Coli. This ...
More Answers
What are the symptoms of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli infection?
Leigh Vinocur, MDLeigh Vinocur, MD
Symptoms of  enterohemorrhagic E Coli are bloody diarrhea and fever. Most healthy people recover...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.