In March 1997, an outbreak of Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichi coli O157 (VTEC)
infection occurred amongst holidaymakers returning from Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. For
the investigation, a confirmed case was an individual staying in Fuerteventura during March
1997, with either E. coli O157 VTEC isolated in stool, HUS or serological evidence of recent
infection; a probable case was an individual with bloody diarrhoea without laboratory
confirmation. Local and Europe-wide active case finding was undertaken through national
centres, Salm-Net and the European Programme of Intervention Epidemiology, followed by a
Fourteen confirmed and one probable case were identified from England (7), Finland (5),
Wales (1), Sweden (1) and Denmark (1) staying in four hotels. Three of the four hotels were
supplied with water from a private well which appeared to be the probable vehicle of
transmission. The case-control study showed illness was associated with consumption of raw
vegetables (OR 8·4, 95% CI 1·5–48·2) which may have been washed in well water.
This investigation shows the importance of international collaboration in the detection and
investigation of clusters of enteric infection.