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Austria expects increased number of E. coli reports in 2021

According to the latest data, the number of E. coli infections reported in Austria in 2021 has increased.

In 2021, the National E. coli Reference Center processed 1,437 specimens. coli. Overall, 1,286 human samples, 79 food samples, and 35 pet food samples were analyzed.

A total of 476 human stool samples tested positive for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). Of these, 310 were identified as producing Shiga toxins, compared to 242 in 2020.

In 2021, only 34 strains of E. coli are O157, the rest are non-O157. Of the latter, there were 25 O26, 26 O103, 3 O111 and 12 O145 isolates. In the Austrian Epidemiological Notification System (EMS), 384 cases were reported, up from 304 in 2020.

In Upper Austria, 53 cases were reported to the EMS in 2020, compared to 104 in 2021. The same state sent 123 human samples to the National Reference Center in 2020, compared with 566 in 2021.

HUS and Patient Details

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) 18 cases, 12 females, 6 males, 11 confirmed cases of children under 15 years old, 5 of the 18 cases were caused by STEC O26: H11. That’s up from 11 cases in 2020.

One of the 10-year-old girls from Upper Austria was caused by a STEC/enteroaggregative E. coli hybrid strain O104:H4, which is very similar to the 2011 German resemblance.

There were 12 domestic outbreaks with 2 to 5 cases and 1 STEC O157:H7 outbreak with 5 cases due to contamination of drinking water reported by EMS.

46 of 1,286 human samples tested positive for the presence of Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC). Three of the four samples were positive for enteroinvasive Escherichia coli (EIEC) and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC).

As in previous years, the majority of STEC cases reported in EMS occurred in the age group 0 to 4 years with 107 individuals. This is followed by those aged 5 to 14 and those over 65. Most STEC-positive samples were registered during the summer months of July and August, but also in September.

EMS reported 1 death. The patient was a 79-year-old female from Upper Austria with cardiorenal failure due to STEC O91:H14-induced diarrhea.

Outbreak Summary

In 2021, 20 foodborne disease outbreaks involving 92 patients were notified. A total of 27 people required hospital treatment and 2 deaths were reported. In 2020 there were 21 outbreaks with 67 patients and 17 hospitalizations.

Last year Salmonella was responsible for 9 outbreaks with 61 cases, followed by Campylobacter with 6 cases, 4 with STEC and 1 with STEC-induced mononucleosis Listeria with five patients. Fifteen are considered domestic outbreaks and three are linked to overseas travel.

S. Enteritidis was responsible for five outbreaks, and S. typhimurium monophasicum, S. Braenderup, Coeln and Muenchen were responsible for one each.


The Salmonella Braenderup outbreak is part of a multi-country incident involving Honduran melons. Austria has 11 cases in five federal states.

A single-phase outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium sickened 31 people from seven states. A connection to a restaurant in East Styria was established for 24 people. The outbreak strain was detected in various dishes served in the restaurant or in the petting zoo it belonged to. There have been no further cases after the restaurant was temporarily closed and hygiene measures were implemented at the outlet and zoo.

Fatal listeria incident

Campylobacter jejuni is five The cause of the outbreaks, two were caused by Escherichia coli, both types were found in a household outbreak involving two patients.

STEC serotypes O26:H11, O146:H21, O157:H7, and O91:H14 were found in an outbreak of E. coli that sickened 14 people.

Listeria outbreak affecting 5 people between January 2020 and September 2021 with 4 cases in 2021. Two people died. Meat products from two processing companies in Lower Austria were identified as sources. Damaged areas on the floor were suspected as possible sources of contamination.

Travel-related outbreaks included two cases of Salmonella Enteritidis, one of which occurred after a stay in Romania. An outbreak of STEC O91:H14 was reported following a trip to Turkey for a family celebration.

Meat products other than poultry have been linked to STEC O91:H14 and Listeria outbreaks. In two Salmonella Enteritidis outbreaks, poultry meat other than chicken was suspected to be present in the Salmonella Enteritidis and Campylobacter E. coli epidemics and bakery products. E. coli O146:H21 outbreak suspected in candy and chocolate.

It was previously reported that the number of human isolates sent to the National Salmonella Reference Center increased from 906 in 2020 to 1,048 in 2021.

A total of 6,019 cases of campylobacteriosis and 36 cases of invasive listeriosis were reported in Austria, with seven deaths within 28 days of diagnosis.

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