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E. coli is a bacterium that lives in the digestive tracts of people and animals. Some types of E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. In some people, this type of E. coli may also cause severe anemia or kidney failure, which can lead to death. Other strains of E. coli can cause urinary tract infections or other infections. You get an E. coli infection by coming into contact with the feces of humans or animals, directly or through tainted food. Symptoms usually start 3 or 4 days after contact with the E. coli. Follow the links below to find WebMD's comprehensive coverage about how E. coli is contracted, the symptoms of E. coli infection, and much more.

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Public health experts tell WebMD about the 'dirty dozen' of places where germs love to hide. Learn about sources of e-coli infection and more.

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