E.coli (0157:H7)

What is it?

  • E.coli 0157:H7 is a type of E.coli that makes a poison and can cause severe illness.
  • Most kinds of E. coli are harmless and live in the intestines (bowel) of healthy animals and humans

Signs and Symptoms

  • Symptoms can appear within 2 to 5 days after swallowing the bacteria in food or water but may occur as late as 10 days after ingestion of the bacteria
  • You may have stomach pains, bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, but usually no fever

How do you get it?

  • Eating contaminated food
  • Eating meat (especially ground beef) that is rare or undercooked is the most common way of becoming infected
  • Contact with animals or animal feces (stool), drinking unpasteurized milk and swimming in or drinking water contaminated with sewage
  • May pass person to person: adults are contagious for a week or less, but some children may be contagious for 3 weeks


  • Most people recover without treatment in 5-10 days.


  • Haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a serious problem that occurs in some infected people, where red blood cells are destroyed and kidney failure occurs.


  • Eat only thoroughly cooked meats
  • Drink only pasteurized milk
  • Wash cutting boards, utensils, and hands thoroughly
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap before and after handling foods, before eating, and after using the toilet or changing diapers
  • Ensure your drinking water is safe.  Test your well water at least 3 times per year

E. coli is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Local Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.