VTEC - Verotoxigenic E.coli


Verotoxigenic E.coli (VTEC) bacteria are strains of E.coli that produce powerful verotoxins. E.coli O157 is the best known.

Ireland has one of the highest rates of VTEC notification in the world (554 VTEC notifications nationally in 2012).

Children under 5 years remain the most vulnerable group.

How do individuals get infected?

The bacteria are present in the faeces/manure of infected animals (about 10% of our dairy cattle carry VTEC). Transmission is via direct contact with soil/animal/manure/raw meat/drinking water. Transmission may also spread person to person as patients excrete the bacteria in their own stools when infected.


  • Incubation period 1-8 days
  • Diarrhoea (often severe & bloody)
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anorexia
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Recovery usually in 5-10 days
  • Hospitalisation (and HUS) not uncommon


  • Supportive care (hydration)
  • Avoid antibiotics (↑ incidence of HUS)

Content by Dr Íomhar O' Sullivan. Last review Dr ÍOS10/06/21.