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Animal and environmental risk factors for sporadic Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection in England: a case control study for O157, O26 and other STEC serotypes

Publication date: 

4 Apr 2023


Pathogens and Global Health, 117:7, 655-663, DOI: 10.1080/20477724.2023.2197672


Kintz E, Brainard J, Vanderes M, Vivancos R, Byrne L, Butt S, Jenkins C, Elson R, Lake I & Hunter P

Publication type: 



ABSTRACT Most Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections are sporadic. Routine enhanced surveillance questionnaires of confirmed STEC cases in England contained promising data to conduct a case-control study to identify non-food exposures linked to the risk of becoming infected with different STEC serotypes, including O157, O26 and all others; this study pulled eligible cases from the recorded enhanced surveillance data. Controls were recruited from the general population and answered a comparable postal questionnaire. Logistic regression was performed to identify risk factors associated with STEC infection for O157, O26 and other serotype cases. In adjusted models, travel outside of the U.K. and childcare occupations raised the risk of infection for all serotypes. Day trips within the UK, exposure to dogs and contact with soil were linked to lower infection risk. Resident region within England was often linked to decreased risk. Summer season was linked to O157 and O26, but not other STEC. Swimming in the sea was linked to increased risk of infection by O157, but not other types of STEC. Correlations between exposures and infection were similar when the analysis was repeated excluding participants with a history of foreign travel. As the first case-control study in England to include sporadic non-O157 STEC, the varying risk factors between O157 and non-O157 cases suggest there are potentially unique reservoirs for different serotypes.