Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria is a type of bacteria that normally live in the intestines. Some types of E. coli can make an individual feel sick and cause diarrhea, while others (E. coli O157:H7) can cause more severe symptoms such as stomach pain, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and sometimes kidney failure and even death. This type of bacteria is most likely to occur in children and in adults with weak immune systems. Exposure to contaminated water or foods is the main cause for contracting E.Coli. Though there is no cure for E.coli, there are several treatment options that can be taken into consideration to help rid the body of toxins and prevent further complications.



Signs and symptoms of E. coli may include:

  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Stomach pain and tenderness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Tiredness



The cause for E.coli is ingestion of bacteria from eating contaminated foods, drinking contaminated water from different areas, not washing hands thoroughly after a bowl movement as well as skin to skin contact. Several factors that are the main causes of contracting E.coli are:

  • Drinking contaminated water (streams, rivers, lakes, swimming pools)
  • Eating contaminated foods (ground beef, unpasteurized milk, fresh produce)
  • Personal contact among infected individuals (poor hygiene and disease outbreaks)


Risk factors

E.coli can affect anyone that is exposure to bacteria. Several factors that contribute to the risk of developing E.coli are:

  • Age (more common in  young children and adults)
  • Weakened immune systems (AIDS/HIV)
  • Eating foods/water that might be raw, undercooked or contaminated (unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, apple cider, others)
  • Decreased stomach acid levels from taking certain medications
  • Time of year (E.coli outbreaks usually occur from June through September)



In most cases, healthy individuals can recover from E.coli within a week; however, in some people, particularly young children and older adults with weak immune systems, a life-threatening form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome can develop.




There is no vaccine or medication that can prevent E.coli from developing in an individual’s system; however, there are a few recommendations that can help reduce the risk of exposure. These include:

  • Avoiding risky foods
  • Cooking foods (especially meat to be well-done)
  • Drinking pasteurized milk, juice and cider
  • Washing products thoroughly
  • Washing utensils and hands thoroughly (avoid cross-contamination)