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Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(6):998

See related article on hemolytic uremic syndrome.

What is hemolytic uremic syndrome?

Hemolytic uremic (say: HEE-moh-LIT-ick you-REE-mick) syndrome, also called HUS, is a disease of the kidneys, blood, and gastrointestinal system. It is rare in the United States.

Who gets HUS?

Anyone can get HUS, but children are three times more likely to get it than adults are.

How do people get HUS?

A kind of bacteria seems to be the main cause of HUS. Milk and apple juice that have not been pasteurized (a heating process to kill germs) and undercooked meat can have this bacteria. Eating and drinking these foods can give you HUS. You can also get it from drinking water that is not cleaned with chlorine (as in contaminated lakes).

What are the symptoms of HUS?

Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, fever, stomachache, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Remember, these don’t always mean you have HUS. Talk with your doctor to find out for sure.

How can my doctor tell if I have HUS?

After talking with you, your doctor may order blood, stool, or urine tests to see if you have HUS.

How is HUS treated?

Most of the time, HUS goes away by itself. However, people with HUS should eat well-cooked food, drink lots of fluids, and continue to check in with their doctor. People with serious cases of HUS might need to go to a hospital, and might need extra blood or a blood treatment.

How can I prevent HUS?

Eat meat only if it’s fully cooked and drink milk and juices only if they are pasteurized. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean water. Drink only clean water. Do not swim in dirty lakes or rivers. Wash your hands well after using the bathroom or petting farm animals.

Where can I learn more about HUS?

Your doctor

National Kidney Foundation

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases

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