Recurrent seasonal outbreak of an emerging serotype of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC O55:H7 Stx2a) in the south west of England, July 2014 to September 2015


McFarland N, Bundle N, Jenkins C, Godbole G, Mikhail A, Dallman T, O'Connor C, McCarthy N, Moore J, Partridge R, Jorgensen F, Willis C, Mook P, Rawlings C, Acornley R, Featherstone C, Gayle S, Edge J, McNamara E, Hawker J, et al.

Unit Authors:

Jeremy Hawker, Noel McCarthy


The first documented British outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) O55:H7 began in the county of Dorset, England, in July 2014. Since then, there have been a total of 31 cases of which 13 presented with haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). The outbreak strain had Shiga toxin (Stx) subtype 2a associated with an elevated risk of HUS. This strain had not previously been isolated from humans or animals in England. The only epidemiological link was living in or having close links to two areas in Dorset. Extensive investigations included testing of animals and household pets. Control measures included extended screening, iterative interviewing and exclusion of cases and high risk contacts. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) confirmed that all the cases were infected with similar strains. A specific source could not be identified. The combination of epidemiological investigation and WGS indicated, however, that this outbreak was possibly caused by recurrent introductions from a local endemic zoonotic source, that a highly similar endemic reservoir appears to exist in the Republic of Ireland but has not been identified elsewhere, and that a subset of cases was associated with human-to-human transmission in a nursery.






Research Themes:

People, Tracking disease in the population