Definition of E. coli O157:H7

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

E. coli O157:H7: A dangerous form of Escherichia coli, the colon bacillus, a bacterium that normally lives in the human colon.

E. coli 0157:H7 is a major health problem, causing hemorrhagic colitis, the hemolytic-uremic syndrome, and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura:

  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) -- Persons who get E. coli 0157:H7, particularly the elderly, can develop a syndrome similar to HUS called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) with anemia due to fragmentation of red blood cells, shortage of platelets (thrombocytopenia) with easy bruising, neurologic abnormalities, impaired kidney function, and fever.

Infection with E. coli 01257:H7 comes most often from eating raw or undercooked ground beef (hamburger) or from drinking raw milk or contaminated water. Less commonly, E coli O157:H7 can be transmitted from one person to another.

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