What is hemolytic uremic syndrome?
People who have hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, have hemolytic anemia (not enough red blood cells), thrombocytopenia (not enough platelets) and renal failure (kidney failure). Most cases of HUS happen after someone has become infected with E. coli. E. coli is short for Escherichia coli -- a common germ that people and many animals normally have in their digestive tract. Certain strains of E. coli can cause severe abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea or other problems. These strains of E. coli produce a poison that damages the lining of blood vessels. As red blood cells travel through the damaged vessels, they are often destroyed.
Who gets HUS?
Anyone can get HUS, but children and older adults are more likely to get it.
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome: An Emerging Health Risk by S Razzaq, M.D. (American Family Physician September 15, 2006, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060915/991.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff