If you have bloody diarrhea or diarrhea lasting three days or more, you might have an infection from a bacteria called E. coli O157:H7. This strain of E. coli can cause your kidneys to fail or be permanently damaged. Although this does not happen to most people, children under five and people over 65 are more at risk for kidney problems than other people. Since other bacterial infections can also cause bloody diarrhea, your doctor will need to order a special test to diagnose E. coli O157:H7.
Protecting yourself and your family from E. coli O157:H7
Most people who get sick from E. coli O157:H7 are completely well within five to ten days. If you think you or one of your family members has an E. coli O157:H7 infection, call your doctor or clinic now. Ask your doctor to call your local health department at 1-800-705-8868 if he/she finds out the illness is from E. coli O157:H7.