Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), previously referred to as Verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC), are a group of bacteria which can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans.
STEC are widespread in the environment and can colonise the gastrointestinal tract of farmed, wild, and domesticated animals and birds and can be shed in their faeces. Ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats) are considered to be the main reservoir of infection although STEC causes no clinical signs of infection in the animal.
Transmission to humans can occur as a result of direct contact with STEC-contaminated faecal material, as a result of handling or petting animals or by exposure to faecally contaminated mud or vegetation during recreational activities. Exposurecan also occur from consumption of water or food which is contaminated.
The number of cases of STEC reported in Scotland decreased slightly in 2017 (both O157 and non-O157 reports). This was in keeping with normal variation expected from year to year.