What is Vibrio infection (Vibriosis)?
About a dozen Vibrio species can cause human illness, known as vibriosis. The most common species causing human illness in the United States are Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus, and Vibrio alginolyticus.
Vibrio bacteria naturally live in certain coastal waters and are present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer.
What causes vibrio?
Most people become infected by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. Certain Vibrio species can also cause a skin infection when an open wound is exposed to brackish or salt water. Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and sea water. It is often found where rivers meet the sea.
CDC estimates that vibriosis causes 80,000 illnesses each year in the United States. About 52,000 of these illnesses are estimated to be the result of eating contaminated food.
About 80% of infections occur between May and October when water temperatures are warmer.
The most commonly reported species, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, is estimated to cause 45,000 illnesses each year in the United States.
Most people with a mild case of vibriosis recover after about 3 days with no lasting effects. However, people with a Vibrio vulnificus infection can get seriously ill and need intensive care or limb amputation. About 1 in 4 people with this type of infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill.
People with compromised immune systems, especially those with chronic liver disease, are more likely to get vibriosis. Eating raw seafood, particularly oysters, and exposing open wounds to brackish or salt water can increase a person's chance for getting vibriosis.
What are the symptoms of vibrio?
When ingested, Vibrio bacteria can cause watery diarrhea, often accompanied by abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion and last about 3 days. Severe illness is rare and typically occurs in people with a weakened immune system.
Vibrio bacteria can also cause a skin infection when an open wound is exposed to brackish or salt water. Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and sea water. It is often found where rivers meet the sea.
Diagnosis of vibrio
A clinician may suspect vibriosis if a patient has watery diarrhea and has recently eaten raw or undercooked seafood, especially oysters, or when a wound infection occurs after exposure to seawater. Infection is diagnosed when Vibrio bacteria are found in the stool, wound, or blood of a patient who has symptoms of vibriosis.
What is the treatment fro vibrio?
Treatment is not necessary in mild cases, but patients should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost through diarrhea. Although there is no evidence that antibiotics decrease the severity or duration of illness, they are sometimes used in severe or prolonged illnesses.
Is it possible to prevent vibrio?
To reduce your chance of getting vibriosis, don't eat raw or undercooked shellfish, such as oysters. If you have a wound (including cuts and scrapes), avoid contact with brackish or salt water or cover the wound with a waterproof bandage if there's a possibility it could come into contact with brackish or salt water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.
United States. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "Vibrio Species Causing Vibriosis." Aug. 31, 2017. <https://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/faq.html>.
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