Health protection – collection

Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC): guidance, data and analysis

The characteristics, diagnosis, management, surveillance and epidemiology of Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC).

Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) are a group of bacteria that cause infectious gastroenteritis. The most frequently reported VTEC strain to cause illness in England and Wales is E. coli O157.

VTEC infection is a relatively rare cause of gastrointestinal illness in England, with around 800 cases diagnosed annually. Symptoms can range from mild gastroenteritis through to severe bloody diarrhoea.

On rare occasions, VTEC infection can cause 2 serious conditions:

  • haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS)
  • thrombotic thrombocytopaenic purpura (TTP)

Both conditions affect the blood, kidneys and, in the most severe cases, the central nervous system.

The main reservoir for VTEC is cattle and other ruminants. Transmission to humans occurs through:

  • consumption of contaminated food or water
  • exposure to a contaminated environment involving direct or indirect contact with animals or their faeces

The low infectious dose of VTEC means that once in the population, person-to-person spread is common.

For guidance on other non-VTEC E. coli infections, see Escherichia coli (E. coli): guidance, data and analysis.

Data submission

PHE Centres should use this questionnaire to report cases of verocytotoxin-producing (VTEC) Escherichia coli (E. coli).

  1. Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli: questionnaire

    • Form


  1. Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157: annual totals

    • Research and analysis
  2. Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157: report on 2009 Godstone Farm incident

    • Independent report

Outbreak investigation

  1. Verocytotoxin-producing E. coli O157 PT 34

    • Research and analysis