In Scotland, between 1995 and 2000 there were between 4 and 10 cases of illness per 100000 population per year identified as being caused by Escherichia coli O157, whereas in England and Wales there were between 1 and 2 cases per 100000 population per year. Within Scotland there is significant regional variation. A cluster of high rate areas was identified in the Northeast of Scotland and a cluster of low rate areas in central-west Scotland. Temporal trends follow a seasonal pattern whilst spatial effects appeared to be distant rather than local. The best-fit model identified a significant spatial trend with case rate increasing from West to East, and from South to North. No statistically significant spatial interaction term was found. In the models fitted, the cattle population density, the human population density, and the number of cattle per person were variously significant. The findings suggest that rural/urban exposures are important in sporadic infections.
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