Vibrios are gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria that occur naturally in estuarine or marine environments. Roughly a dozen species are known to cause disease in humans 1, accounting for an estimated 80,000 illnesses, 500 hospitalizations and 100 deaths each year in the United States 2.
Infection is usually from exposure to seawater or consumption of raw or undercooked seafood [3, 4] Vibriosis is characterized by diarrhea, primary septicemia, wound infections, or other extraintestinal infections [3-7]. Infection with pathogenic species of the family Vibrionaceae can cause two distinct categories of infection: cholera and vibriosis, both of which are nationally notifiable.
Information on this site focuses on two species that cause vibriosis: Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus. For information on cholera and it global impact, see CDC’s cholera website.
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Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium that lives in brackish saltwater and seawater. It typically 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 salt-requiring organism.
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that lives in brackish saltwater and seawater. Like V. parahaemolyticus, it is part of a group of vibrios that require salt and it is present in higher concentrations in warmer waters. In people who are immunocomprimised, particularly those with chronic liver disease, V. vulnificus can cause disease with potentially fatal complications by eating contaminated seafood or exposing an open wound to contaminated seawater.
- Austin B. Vibrios as causal agents of zoonoses. Vet Microbiol 2009;140:310-7.
- Scallan E, Hoekstra RM, Angulo FJ, et al. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States—major athogens. Emerg Infect Dis 2011 Jan; 17(1):7-15.
- Altekruse SF, Bishop RD, Baldy LM, et al. Vibrio gastroenteritis in the US Gulf of Mexico region: the role of raw oysters. Epidemiol Infect 2000;124:489-95.
- Dechet AM, Yu PA, Koram N, Painter J. Nonfoodborne Vibrio infections: an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, 1997–2006. Clin Infect Dis 2008;46:970-6.
- Pickering LK, Baker C, Kimberlin DW, Long SS, editors. Red book: 2009 report of the committee on infectious diseases. 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009. American Academy of Pediatrics. Other vibrio infections. In:; p. 729-30.
- Horseman MA, Surani S. A comprehensive review of Vibrio vulnificus: an important cause of severe sepsis and skin and soft-tissue infection. Int J Infect Dis 2010;15:e157-66.
- Daniels NA, MacKinnon L, Bishop R, et al. Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections in the United States, 1973–1998. J Infect Dis 2000;181:1661-6.