Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is a pathogen that can cause bloody diarrhoea and severe complications. Cases occur sporadically but outbreaks are also common. Understanding the incubation period distribution and factors influencing it will help in the investigation of exposures and consequent disease control. We extracted individual patient data for STEC cases associated with outbreaks with a known source of exposure in England and Wales. The incubation period was derived and cases were described according to patient and outbreak characteristics. We tested for heterogeneity in reported incubation period between outbreaks and described the pattern of heterogeneity. We employed a multi-level regression model to examine the relationship between patient characteristics such as age, gender and reported symptoms; and outbreak characteristics such as mode of transmission with the incubation period. A total of 205 cases from 41 outbreaks were included in the study, of which 64 cases (31%) were from a single outbreak. The median incubation period was 4 days. Cases reporting bloody diarrhoea reported shorter incubation periods compared with cases without bloody diarrhoea, and likewise, cases aged between 40 and 59 years reported shorter incubation period compared with other age groups. It is recommended that public health officials consider the characteristics of cases involved in an outbreak in order to inform the outbreak investigation and the period of exposure to be investigated.
- Analysis of data
- Incubation period
- Individual patient data analysis
- Shiga-like toxin-producing E. coli