E. coli

What is it?


E. coli (Escherichia coli) is a bacteria present in the intestines of healthy people. Generally, E. coli bacteria are harmless or cause brief symptoms of diarrhoea, although certain strains of E. coli lead to more severe symptoms.


What are the symptoms?

Infection with E. coli can begin suddenly and cause the following signs and symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping or pain in the stomach
  • Loose or watery diarrhea
  • Feeling unwell
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches and pains


Signs and symptoms can appear between 2 to 10 days after E. coli has been ingested and typically last between 1 and 3 days, but can last longer. 




E. coli infection can be transmitted by

  • Person-to-person contact 
  • Eating contaminated food such as ground beef, unpasteurised milk and fresh produce
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Cross-contamination


Risk factors such as age (young and old), a weakened immune system, eating certain types of foods, the time of year (summer months) and decreased stomach acid can contribute to developing problems from E. coli.




The Doctor diagnoses E. coli based on symptoms, a physical exam and similar cases in the community. Rapid stool tests can identify E. coli bacteria.


Outbreak Definition


An outbreak of E. coli  is where two or more people in a facility, residents or employees, become ill with vomiting or diarrhea within 24 hours of each other.