E. coli can affect anyone who is exposed to the bacteria. But some people are more likely to develop problems than are others. Risk factors include:

  • Age. Young children and older adults are at higher risk of experiencing illness caused by E. coli and more-serious complications from the infection.
  • Weakened immune systems. People who have weakened immune systems — from AIDS or drugs to treat cancer or prevent the rejection of organ transplants — are more likely to become ill from ingesting E. coli.
  • Eating certain types of food. Riskier foods include undercooked hamburger; unpasteurized milk, apple juice or cider; and soft cheeses made from raw milk.
  • Time of year. Though it's not clear why, the majority of E. coli infections in the U.S. occur from June through September.
  • Decreased stomach acid levels. Stomach acid offers some protection against E. coli. If you take medications to reduce your levels of stomach acid, such as esomeprazole (Nexium), pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec), you may increase your risk of an E. coli infection.
Aug. 01, 2014

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