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Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) are a specialized group of E. coli that can cause severe colonic disease and renal failure. Their pathogenicity derives from virulence factors that enable the bacteria to colonize the colon and deliver extremely powerful toxins known as verotoxins (VT) or Shiga toxins (Stx) to the systemic circulation. The recent devastating E. coli O104:H4 epidemic in Europe has shown how helpless medical professionals are in terms of offering effective therapies. By examining the sources and distribution of these bacteria, and how they cause disease, we will be in a better position to prevent and treat the inevitable future cases of sporadic disease and victims of common source outbreaks. Due to the complexity of pathogenesis, it is likely a multitargeted approach is warranted. Developments in terms of these treatments are discussed.
See related article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/11