Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Karen Giseker - Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Peter Gerner-Smidt - Co-Chair


Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) cause diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). All STEC produce one or both of two Shiga toxins, Stx1 and Stx2. STEC strains that produce Stx2 are more strongly associated with HUS than strains that produce Stx1 or both Stx1 and Stx2. Epidemiologic evidence indicates a recent increase in the rate of HUS among STEC outbreaks. The increasing rate of HUS could be explained by a shift in the toxin profiles of STEC strains. The purpose of this study was to examine trends in toxin profiles of human STEC O157 isolates from 1996 to 2008 and to assess whether an increase in the number of Stx2-only-producing strains could be correlated with a recent increase in HUS cases. Data from three independent datasets, collected from PulseNet, eFORS and NARMS, were used. Additionally, trends such as seasonal variations, geographical variations, gender differences, and age differences were examined for each toxin profile. Results from this study show a shift in the toxin profile of human STEC O157 strains in the United States, in that the proportion of Stx2-only producing strains has increased dramatically since 1996.

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