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JUAN GAERTNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JUAN GAERTNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of EHEC bacteria (red) infecting the villi of the small intestine. EHEC (enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli) are a strain of E coli that are an important cause of food poisoning, which can lead to haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS). The EHEC strain produces verotoxin (or Shiga-like toxin), a protein that damages the tiny blood vessels in the villi, leading to haemorrage and bloody diarrhoea. As the condition progresses, the toxin can damage the kidneys and lead to anaemia due to destruction of red blood cells. HUS can be fatal in some cases.
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