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The Shiga toxins of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) can be divided into Shiga toxin 1 (Stx1) and Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2) with several sub-variants. Variant Stx2f is one of the latest described, but has been rarely associated with symptomatic human infections. In the enhanced STEC surveillance in the Netherlands, 198 STEC O157 cases and 351 STEC non-O157 cases, including 87 stx STEC isolates, were reported between 2008 and 2011. Most stx strains belonged to the serogroups O63:H6 (n=47, 54%), O113:H6 (n=12, 14%) and O125:H6 (n=12, 14%). Of the 87 stx isolates, 84 (97%) harboured the E. coli attaching and effacing (eae) gene, but not the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli haemolysin (hly) gene. Stx STEC infections show milder symptoms and a less severe clinical course than STEC O157 infections. Almost all infections with stx (n=83, 95%) occurred between June and December, compared to 170/198 (86%) of STEC O157 and 173/264 (66%) of other STEC non-O157. Stx STEC infections in the Netherlands are more common than anticipated, and form a distinct group within STEC with regard to virulence genes and the relatively mild disease.


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