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Symptoms and Signs of E. coli Infection

Doctor's Notes on E. coli Infection

E. coli (also termed Escherichia coli) is a gram-negative rod-shaped bacterial species found worldwide; it has many subtypes that may cause a variety of diseases in humans. Usual signs and symptoms of E. coli infections are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps gas production and diarrhea; depending on the bacterial subtype (determined by detection of certain surface antigens), other symptoms such as fever and bloody diarrhea may occur. Severe infections can occur; signs and symptoms can include dehydration, renal failure (fluid retention, swelling, shortness of breath), anemia (pale skin), easy bruising (blood clotting problems), septic shock (low blood pressure) and death.

E. coli bacterial subtypes are the causes of E. coli infections. Some subtypes produce toxins that lead to more severe infections. Infections with E. coli usually begin in the gastrointestinal tract where E. coli abnormally proliferates and/or produces toxin that can cause severe symptoms.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.