In children, HUS can develop after an infection with a toxic strain of E. coli bacteria. E. coli can be found in contaminated food, such as meats and dairy foods. Outbreaks have also occurred in fast food restaurants, because of undercooked hamburger meat. E. coli can also be found in contaminated water. HUS is more common during the summer and may occur in outbreaks. Outbreaks have been reported in daycare centers and water parks.
HUS can also develop from taking certain medicines, such as chemotherapy medicines. It may occur at the same time as cancer. Some rare cases of HUS run in families. This means it may sometimes be caused by a gene.
A child is more at risk for HUS if he or she:
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. The first symptoms of HUS often last from 1 to 15 days and may include:
Severe problems in the bowel and colon may develop in some children, even after the above symptoms are gone. In these cases, a child may have symptoms such as:
If waste and extra fluid are not removed from the body, this can cause:
The symptoms of HUS can seem like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. Your child may also have tests, such as:
There is no treatment to stop HUS. But treatment can be done to help support your child during the illness. Your child may need close monitoring in an intensive care unit (ICU). Treatments in ICU may include:
You can help prevent E. coli infection in your family with these steps:
If your child has HUS, tell your daycare center or your child's other close contacts at play groups and school. HUS is not contagious, but children can spread E. coli bacteria.
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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