Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) can be classified according to the aetiology of the different disorders from which it is composed. The most prevalent form is that induced by shigatoxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and, in some tropical regions, by Shigella dysenteriae type 1. STEC cause a zoonosis, are widely distributed in nature, enter the food chain in different ways, and show regional differences. Not all STEC are human pathogens. Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli usually cause attachment and effacing lesions in the intestine. This is not essential, but production of a shigatoxin (Stx) is. Because Stx are encoded by a bacteriophage, this property is transferable to naïve strains. Laboratory methods have improved by identifying STEC either via the toxin or its bacteriophage. Shigella dysenteriae type 1 produces shigatoxin, identical to Stx-1, but also has entero-invasive properties that enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) do not. Shigella patients risk bacteremia and benefit from early antibiotic treatment, unlike those with EHEC.
Keywords: Haemolytic uraemic syndrome, Aetiology, Classification, Investigation, Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, Shigella dysenteriae type-1, Shigatoxin