Symptoms of E. coli (Escherichia coli) infection

Learn about the symptoms of E. coli infection and what to do if you become ill.

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What are the symptoms of an E. coli infection?

People who get infected with E. coli can have a wide range of symptoms.

You may not get sick at all. If you do get sick, you may experience:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • mild fever
  • severe stomach cramps
  • watery or bloody diarrhea

Symptoms appear within 1 to 10 days after exposure to E. coli bacteria. Most symptoms end within 5 to 10 days.

While most people recover completely on their own, some people may have a more serious illness that:

  • requires hospital care
  • may lead to long-lasting health effects or death

What do you do if you become ill?

If you think you have an E. coli infection, see your health care provider.

Avoid preparing food for other people if you think you are:

  • sick from E. coli infection
  • suffering from any other illness of the stomach or intestines

Severe vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration (fluid loss). To protect against dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. This is particularly important for at-risk groups.

To help replace the nutrients and minerals your body has lost, you can use oral rehydration fluids. You can buy these fluids pre-mixed at your local drug store.

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