What is it?
E. Coli is broadly classified by O and H antigens. For instance, the most well-known E. Coli strain is O157:H7. Outbreaks involving non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli (STEC) are rarer (or perhaps under-reported), but have been increasing since the 1990s.
How is it spread?
The bacterium can be spread person to person or by contaminated foods. The major source for humans is cattle feces.
Symptoms are similar to those involved in E. Coli O157 (abdominal cramping, bloody diarrhea, and possible organ damage), but can also include hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening complication that can cause kidney failure. Incubation can take as long as ten days or as few as one.
Most at risk
Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons are most at risk, but given the right conditions, anyone can suffer this illness.
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