Escherichia coli O157, sometimes called VTEC, is a bacterial infection that can cause severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure.

E. coli O157 is found in the gut and faeces of many animals, particularly cattle. It is an uncommon cause of gastroenteritis but can be caught by:

  • Eating contaminated food (such as raw leafy vegetables or undercooked meat). Always wash all vegetables (including salad leaves) that will be eaten raw,unless they have been pre-prepared and are labelled ready to eat.Washing may reduce the risk of infection, but will not eliminate any risk of infection completely.
  • Touching infected animals or accidentally coming into contact with their faeces.
  • Contact with people who have the illness , particularly if you do not wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet or before handling food.
  • Drinking water from inadequately treated water supplies.
  • Swimming or playing in contaminated water , such as ponds or streams.
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Jul 2016