Escherichia coli, (E. coli) is the name of a germ, or bacteria, that lives in the digestive tracts of humans and animals.
There are many types of E. coli, and most of them are harmless. But some can cause bloody diarrhea. Some strains of E. coli bacteria (such as a strain called O157:H7) may also cause severe anemia or kidney failure, which can lead to death.
Other strains of E. coli can cause uninary tract infections or other infections. You get an E. coli infection by coming into contact with the faces, or stool, of humans or animals. This can happen when you drink water or eat food that has been contaminated by faeces.
The bacteria can also spread from one person to another, usually when an infected person does not wash his or her hands well after a bowel movement. E. coli can spread from an infected person’s hands to other people or to objects.