What is E. coli?

By Brittany Taylor - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - There have been several outbreaks of the bacteria E. coli across the country this past year. We've all heard about the bacteria, but many may not know what is E. coli.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, There are three different types of E. coli: Shiga toxin-producing  E. coli, Enterotoxigenic E. coli and Diarrheagenic E. coli.

Enterotoxigenic E. coli is a bacterial diarrheal illness that affects most travelers and comes from lower-income countries, according to the CDC. ETEC is usually transmitted though food or water that has been contaminated with animal and human feces.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli is the most common bacteria found in North America and often called E. coli O157:H7. 

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days, on average) after exposure to the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. This condition can occur at any age, but is most common in children under 5 years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor and decreased urine.

According to the CDC, symptoms of  E. coli include stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. The usual recovery time is about one week.

To avoid contracting E. coli, doctors recommend frequently washing your hands, avoiding unpasteurized dairy products and cooking meats thoroughly.

If you have any of these symptoms, the Food and Drug Administration said you should seek emergency medical care immediately.

KPRC 2018/ CNN