Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157)

E. coli O157:H7 is one of hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli. Although most strains are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, this strain produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness.

Approximately 160 to 220 cases of E. coli O157:H7 are reported in Minnesota each year.

on this page:
Fact Sheets
Symptoms
Duration of Illness
Complications
Transmission

Fact Sheets

Symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  • severe bloody diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • little or no fever

Other symptoms may include:

  • nonbloody diarrhea
  • or no symptoms at all.

Symptoms usually begin 2-5 days after infection (range, 1 to 8 days).

Duration of Illness

  • The illness usually resolves in 5 to 10 days.

Complications

  • Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome develops in about 5% of reported E. coli O157:H7 cases, most frequently in young children or the elderly.

Transmission

  • Many illnesses have been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef.

  • Produce items (e.g., lettuce, sprouts) can be contaminated through contact with cattle feces in the field.

  • Person-to-person contact in families and childcare centers is also a common mode of transmission.

  • Infection can also occur after drinking raw milk and after swimming in or drinking water contaminated by farm animals, usually cattle.

Do you suspect that you have a foodborne illness? Visit reporting suspected foodborne illnesses.

 

Updated Friday, July 18, 2014 at 10:15AM