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. Exposure can also occur from consumption of water or food which is contaminated.
Overall, the number of cases of
E. coli O157/STEC reported in Scotland increased in 2018 – cases of
E. coli O157 decreased and cases of non-O157 STEC increased. The numbers are in keeping with normal variation expected from year to year.