Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli in human medicine

Helge Karch, Phillip I. Tarr, Martina Bielaszewska

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

487 Scopus citations


Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) are the pathogenic subgroup of Shiga toxin (Stx)-producing E. coli. EHEC can cause non-bloody and bloody diarrhoea, and the haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a major cause of acute renal failure in children. E. coli O157:H7 is the predominant, but far from being the only, serotype that can cause HUS. The cascade leading from gastrointestinal infection to renal impairment is complex, with the microvascular endothelium being the major histopathological target. EHEC also produce non-Stx molecules, such as cytolethal distending toxin, which can contribute to the endothelial or vascular injury. Because there are no specific therapies for EHEC infections, efficient reservoir and human preventive strategies are important areas of ongoing investigations. This review will focus on the microbiology, epidemiology, and pathophysiology of EHEC-associated diseases, and illustrate future challenges and opportunities for their control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-418
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number6-7
StatePublished - Oct 5 2005


  • Diarrhoea
  • EHEC O157:H7
  • EHEC non-O157
  • Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli
  • Haemolytic uraemic syndrome

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