Vibrio and Food

You can get a Vibrio infection by eating raw or undercooked seafood, particularly oysters. You also can get an infection if you have an open wound that comes in contact with raw or undercooked seafood, their juices, or their drippings.

If you enjoy eating seafood, fishing in coastal waters, or crabbing off the pier, learn more about how you can protect yourself and family from a Vibrio infection.

What foods are commonly linked to Vibrio?

Vibrio bacteria naturally live in coastal waters and can concentrate inside shellfish and other seafood that live in these waters.

  • Oysters: Oysters feed by filtering water. As oysters feed, Vibrio, norovirus, and other germs can concentrate in them. When you eat raw or undercooked oysters, germs that may be in them can make you sick. Get the facts about Vibrio and oysters >
  • Other shellfish: Oysters aren’t the only shellfish that can carry Vibrio and other germs. Vibrio illnesses have also been linked to crawfish, crab meat, and other shellfish including clams, mussels, and scallops. Stay safe by following CDC’s tips for cooking shellfish and preventing wound infections.
  • Fish: Although Vibrio infections from fish aren’t as common as infections from shellfish, they do happen from time to time. Other harmful germs can be found in fish, too. To help prevent infection, cook fish to 145°F or until its flesh is opaque.

How many people get a Vibrio illness (vibriosis) from food each year?

CDC estimates that vibriosis causes 80,000 illnesses each year in the United States. An estimated 52,000 of those illnesses are caused by eating food containing Vibrio. Most people with a foodborne Vibrio infection have watery diarrhea. Some people may also have stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. Symptoms usually start within 1 day after infection and last about 3 days.

Image of Oysters on ice
Tips for Cooking Shellfish

Before cooking, discard any shellfish with open shells.

For shellfish in the shell, either:

  • Boil until the shells open and continue boiling another 3-5 minutes, or
  • Add to a steamer when water is already steaming, and cook for another 4-9 minutes.

Only eat shellfish that open during cooking. Throw out any shellfish that do not open fully after cooking.

For shucked oysters, either:

  • Boil for at least 3 minutes,
  • Fry in oil for at least 3 minutes at 375° Fahrenheit,
  • Broil 3 inches from heat for 3 minutes, or
  • Bake at 450° Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.