Medical Definition of E. coli

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

E. coli: Escherichia coli is part of the normal human intestinal flora. E. coli has been studied intensively in genetics and molecular and cell biology because of its availability, its small genome size, its normal lack of pathogenicity (disease-causing ability), and its ease of growth in the laboratory.

Most strains of E. coli are quite harmless. However, some strains of E. coli are capable of causing disease, sometimes disease of deadly proportions.

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Reviewed on 10/30/2018

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