During 1998–2002, 124 microbiologically confirmed infections caused by shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) were reported in Finland. Of these, 25 (20%) were associated with recent foreign travel. Temporal, geographical and type distribution of the domestically acquired infections (n=99) caused by strains of serogroup O157 (n=52) and non-O157 (n=47) were analysed further. The median age of the patients was 6·8 years (range 0·2–73·1 years). Of the index cases within 26 families, 71% were <5 years old. Family-related infections accounted for 49%, sporadic infections 39%, and 11% were associated with three clusters. Only strains of serogroup O157 carrying eae and stx2 or its variants caused separate clusters. The incidence of STEC infections was at its highest (0·64/100000) in 1998. Since 1999 it has declined considerably (0·17/100000 in 2002). STEC infections occurred in 14 hospital districts, mostly (28%) in the Helsinki region. However, the incidence was highest (10·3) in northwest Finland.
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