Information for Health Professionals
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are important enteric bacterial pathogens in the United States, causing an estimated 265,000 infections, 3,600 hospitalizations, and 30 deaths each year. STEC produce Shiga toxin 1 and/or Shiga toxin 2, potent toxins responsible for many of the pathogenic effects of STEC infection.
STEC O157 is the most widely recognized serogroup. However, there are numerous other STEC serogroups, often referred to collectively as STEC non-O157, that can cause illness similar to O157.
STEC is transmitted by exposure to the feces of a shedding animal or infected human. Acute illness, usually gastroenteritis, typically occurs after an incubation period of 3 to 4 days but may occur anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure. Illness may be more severe in young children and older patients. About 5-10% of STEC case-patients develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening complication of a STEC infection. HUS is a disease characterized by hemolytic anemia, acute kidney failure, and often a low platelet count, and is the leading cause of short-term acute renal failure in U.S. children.