Verotoxins (also called Shiga toxins) are produced by certain strains of Escherichia coli and can cause a broad range of symptoms from mild intestinal discomfort, to bloody diarrhea, hemolytic uremic syndrome, end-stage renal disease, and death. Verotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) includes enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) and shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), specifically E. coli O157:H7, E. coli O111:H8 and E. coli O26:H11. Vertoxins are a significant contributor to foodborne disease and cause very large outbreaks every few years. Ingestion of contaminated food and water, and person-to-person and animal-to-person transmission by the fecal-oral route are responsible for VTEC infection. Detection of verotoxin in food is typically by culture or rapid antigen detection assays. Stool samples are required for diagnosis in infected individuals and testing can be by culture, ELISA, or PCR.
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