The Center for Disease Control shared that although most kinds of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick. Learn about E. coli and what you can do to help lower your chances of infection.
What are Escherichia coli?
Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals.
Most E. coli are harmless and are actually an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, bloodstream infections, and other illnesses. The types of E. coli that can cause illness can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people.
What are Shiga toxin-producing E. coli?
Some kinds of E. coli bacteria cause disease when they make a toxin called Shiga toxin. The bacteria that make these toxins are called “Shiga toxin-producing E. coli,” or STEC for short.
- The most common type of STEC in the United States is E.coli O157:H7 (often shortened to E. coli O157 or even just O157).
- Other STEC are called non-O157.
When you hear news reports about outbreaks of E. coli infections, they are usually talking about E. coli O157.
CDC estimates that each year STEC causes 265,000 illness, 3,600 hospitalizations and 30 deaths in the United States. Read more