Vidyya Medical News Servicesm
Vidyya, from the Sanskrit "vaidya," a practitioner who has come to understand the science of life.

Volume 1 Published - 14:00 UTC    08:00 EST    30-September-2000      
Issue 170 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST    01-October-2000      

Vidyya Home  Vidyya

Home Of Our Sponsor, Vidyya.  Vidyya. Home

Vidyya Archives  Vidyya Archives

Search Vidyya  Search Vidyya

Visit Our Library  Ex Libris

Subscribe To Our News Service  Subscriptions

All About Us  About Vidyya



















Back To Vidyya General Information

Vibrio parahaemolyticus

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Vibrio parahaemolyticus?
What type of illness is caused by V. parahaemolyticus?
How does infection with V. parahaemolyticus occur?
How common is V. parahaemolyticus infection?
How is V. parahaemolyticus diagnosed?
How is V. parahaemolyticus treated?
How do oysters get contaminated with V. parahaemolyticus?
How is V. parahaemolyticus infection prevented?
How can I find out more about V. parahaemolyticus?


What is Vibrio parahaemolyticus?

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera. It lives in brackish saltwater and causes gastrointestinal illness in humans. V. parahaemolyticus naturally inhabits coastal waters in the United States and Canada and is present in higher concentrations during summer; it is a halophilic, or salt-requiring organism.

Top

What type of illness is caused by V. parahaemolyticus?

When ingested, V. parahaemolyticus causes watery diarrhea often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting fever and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion. Illness is usually self-limited and lasts 3 days. Severe disease is rare and occurs more commonly in persons with weakened immune systems. V. parahaemolyticus can also cause an infection of the skin when an open wound is exposed to warm seawater.

Top

How does infection with V. parahaemolyticus occur?

Most people become infected by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. Less commonly, this organism can cause an infection in the skin when an open wound is exposed to warm seawater.

Top

How common is infection with V. parahaemolyticus?

In Asia, V. parahaemolyticus is a common cause of foodborne disease. In the United States, it is less commonly recognized as a cause of illness, partly because clinical laboratories rarely use the selective medium that is necessary to identify this organism. Not all states require that V. parahemolyticus infections be reported to the state health department, but CDC collaborates with the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas to monitor the number of cases of Vibrio infection in this region. From those states, about 30-40 cases of V. parahaemolyticus infections are reported each year. The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, Food Net, also tracks V. parahaemolyticus in regions outside the Gulf Coast. In 1997, the incidence of diagnosed V. parahaemolyticus infection in Food Net sites was .25/100,000.

Top

How is V. parahaemolyticus infection diagnosed?

Vibrio organisms can be isolated from cultures of stool, wound, or blood. For isolation from stool, use of a selective medium that has thiosulfate, citrate, bile salts, and sucrose (TCBS agar) is recommended. If there is clinical suspicion for infection with this organism, the microbiology laboratory should be notified so that they will perform cultures using this medium. A physician should suspect V. parahaemolyticus infection if a patient has watery diarrhea and has eaten raw or undercooked seafood, especially oysters, or when a wound infection occurs after exposure to seawater.

Top

How is V. parahaemolyticus treated?

Treatment is not necessary in most cases of V. parahaemolyticus infection. There is no evidence that antibiotic treatment decreases the severity or the length of the illness. Patients should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost through diarrhea. In severe or prolonged illnesses, antibiotics such as tetracycline, ampicillin or ciprofloxicin can be used. The choice of antibiotics should be based on antimicrobial susceptibilities of the organism.

Top

How do oysters get contaminated with V. parahaemolyticus?

Vibrio is a naturally occurring organism commonly found in waters where oysters are cultivated. When the appropriate conditions occur with regard to salt content and temperature, V. parahaemolyticus thrives.

Top

How is V. parahaemolyticus infection prevented?

Most infections caused by V. parahaemolyticus in the United States can be prevented by thoroughly cooking seafood, especially oysters. Wound infections can be prevented by avoiding exposure of open wounds to warm seawater. When an outbreak is traced to an oyster bed, health officials recommend closing the oyster bed until conditions are less favorable for V. parahaemolyticus.

Top

How can I learn more about Vibrio parahaemolyticus?

You can discuss your medical concerns with your doctor or other health care provider. Your local health department can provide information about this and other public health problems. Information about problems associated with raw seafood consumption can be obtained from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (telephone 1-800-332-4010). At this number recorded information is available on many subjects including seafood consumption and handling. A public affairs specialist is available 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Seafood safety information is also available on the world wide web at http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov, http://seafood.ucdavis.edu. There is more information about other Vibrio infections, such as Vibrio vulnificus at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/vibriovulnificus_g.htm.


Vidyya. Home |  Ex Libris |  Vidyya  | 
Subscription Information |  About Vidyya |  Vidyya Archives | 

Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
© Vidyya. All rights reserved.