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E. Coli

Called E. coli,  includes hundreds of strains of bacteria that live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals. Some of these bacteria can cause severe illness. Most illness occurs from eating undercooked ground beef. Other cases have been traced to drinking unpasteurized apple juice or cider, raw milk, eating produce contaminated by animal feces, and recreational exposure in contaminated water. It can also spread from person to person in families and childcare centers where there is poor personal hygiene. Symptoms include abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody. There is little or no fever present, and serious illness is generally gone in five to 10 days. In children under age 5 and the elderly, the infection can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, which destroys the red blood cells and causes the kidneys to fail. This complication occurs in about 2 to 7 percent of infections. Most people infected with E. coli recover without antibiotics or other specific treatment.

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