Epidemiological Alert: Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) and infection by Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) (Published on 3 June 2011)
Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS): It is a life-threatening disease characterized by acute renal failure (uraemia), haemolytic anaemia, and a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). It results from EHEC infection, and it is estimated that up to 10% of EHEC-affected patients may develop HUS. The mortality rate has decreased during the last few years and with appropriate treatment is between the 3% and 5%.
It can cause neurological complications (such as seizure, stroke and coma) in 25% of HUS patients and chronic renal sequelae, usually mild, in around 50% of survivors. EHEC or STEC is a severe strain of E. coli bacterium that is commonly found in the gut of animals, mainly ruminants. EHEC produces toxins, known as verotoxins or Shiga-like toxins because of their similarity to the toxins produced by Shigella dysenteriae. They can cause severe foodborne disease. STEC is transmitted to humans primarily through consumption of contaminated foods, such as raw or undercooked ground meat products and raw milk, contaminated water, direct contact with animals or contact with infected people. Symptoms of disease include abdominal cramps and diarrhoea, which may be bloody. Fever and vomiting may also occur.