Epidemiology and Infection

Shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) infections in Finland during 1998–2002: a population-based surveillance study

M. EKLUND a1, J. P. NUORTI a2, P. RUUTU a2 and A. SIITONEN a1c1
a1 Enteric Bacteria Laboratory, Department of Bacterial and Inflammatory Diseases, National Public Health Institute (KTL), FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland
a2 Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, National Public Health Institute (KTL), FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland

Article author query
eklund m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
nuorti jp   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ruutu p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
siitonen a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


During 1998–2002, 124 microbiologically confirmed infections caused by shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) were reported in Finland. Of these, 25 (20%) were associated with recent foreign travel. Temporal, geographical and type distribution of the domestically acquired infections (n=99) caused by strains of serogroup O157 (n=52) and non-O157 (n=47) were analysed further. The median age of the patients was 6·8 years (range 0·2–73·1 years). Of the index cases within 26 families, 71% were <5 years old. Family-related infections accounted for 49%, sporadic infections 39%, and 11% were associated with three clusters. Only strains of serogroup O157 carrying eae and stx2 or its variants caused separate clusters. The incidence of STEC infections was at its highest (0·64/100000) in 1998. Since 1999 it has declined considerably (0·17/100000 in 2002). STEC infections occurred in 14 hospital districts, mostly (28%) in the Helsinki region. However, the incidence was highest (10·3) in northwest Finland.

(Published Online May 9 2005)
(Accepted March 11 2005)

c1 National Public Health Institute, Enteric Bacteria Laboratory, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland. (Email: anja.siitonen@ktl.fi)