Disease Name

Escherichia coli

Vector Information

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a broad term for several strains of bacteria, most of which are not harmful to people. Infections are transmitted through contaminated water or food or through contact with animals or other people. The most common symptom of E. coli infections is diarrhea.  

Most E. coli strains are natural and occur in the intestines of people and animals. Some strains of E. coli are important for digestion, but some strains of E. coli are pathogenic and can cause illness, and in some cases death. Some strains can cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, and other illnesses. Aside from diarrhea, symptoms of E. coli infections include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. In some cases, individuals will have a low fever. Most people recover within 5 to 7 days of symptom onset. In severe forms of the disease, individuals may develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which is where the infection targets a person's kidneys. This can be life threatening and requires hospitalization. Symptoms for E. coli infections typically occur 3 to 4 days after exposure, but may be as short as one day or as long as 10 days. If HUS occurs, it typically develops within 7 days of original symptom onset. Houseflies and cockroaches play a part in spreading this bacteria by picking up the bacteria on their legs and bodies and then walking across counter tops, on foods, and around clean dishes.