E. coli is the name of a bacterium that resides in the digestive tracts of humans and animals. E. coli is short for Escherichia coli.
There are different variations of E. coli, including ones that do not cause harm, ones that can cause brief diarrhea and even more harmful ones that cause severe symptoms, such as abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
An E. coli infection can occur when someone comes in contact with the stool of humans or animals. This usually takes place by ingesting food or water that has been contaminated by the feces. The bacteria can be spread from human to human when hands are not washed after using the bathroom. The bacteria can spread from the dirty hands to surfaces or objects.
An E. coli infection can also occur when someone ingests infected raw dairy products. Pasteurized dairy products eliminate this risk by using heat to kill off any bacteria on or in the product.
Rinsing off raw fruits and vegetables can eliminate the risk of an E. coli infection. Rinsing the surfaces of raw fruits and vegetables removes any animal feces that may be found.
E. coli bacteria infections last around seven days for healthy adults. Children and elderly adults run the risk of contracting life-threatening complications from the infection.