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Vibrio: What You Need to Know

What is Vibrio?

Vibrio is a curved-rod-shaped bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It usually results from eating contaminated raw or undercooked seafood like shellfish. There are several types of vibrio, but Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus, and Vibrio alginolyticus are endemic in the US.

How do you know if you have Vibrio?

When you acquire the illness, the onset of symptoms usually starts from 12-24 hours after consuming a contaminated dish. Symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. It's usually mild to moderate and can last up to 2 to 3 days. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required.

How can a person be infected with Vibrio?

A vibrio infection can come from eating raw or undercooked fish or shellfish. Even fully cooked seafood can be recontaminated if rinsed with the same seawater it came from. Lack of correct food handling practices or inability to refrigerate prepared seafood can also lead to illness.

Why do people need to be concerned about Vibrio?

Like many other foodborne illnesses, vibrio usually presents common symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, and fever and lasts up to 2-3 days. However, Vibrio vulnificus can cause particularly severe and life-threatening infections that may require amputation of the limbs and at times, death.

When does Vibrio start?

Manifestation of a vibrio infection can start as early as 12 hours to 4 days after consuming a contaminated fish or shellfish.

How long does Vibrio last?

A vibrio infection can last up to 2 to 3 days after symptoms start appearing. Sometimes, it lasts a little bit longer when the symptoms become severe and would therefore need the attention of a medical practitioner.

What are the chances of getting Vibrio vulnificus?

V. vulnificus is most commonly found in stagnant, inshore waters, especially near freshwater discharge, rather than in the open ocean because of their inability to tolerate high salinities. So, getting infected with the bacteria is very rare except in cases where seafood is being bred or caught in these contaminated areas.

How is Vibrio treated?

In cases where a person only exhibits mild and manageable symptoms, no treatment is necessary. Physicians would usually advise that patients drink lots of liquids to replenish lost fluids because of diarrhea or vomiting. Although antibiotics are usually prescribed for severe cases, there is no real evidence that it can help with the infection.

How do you test for Vibrio vulnificus?

If a patient starts showing signs of watery diarrhea and the physician finds out that they had recently consumed raw or undercooked seafood, they may request either a stool or a blood sample to send to the lab for testing.

What food is Vibrio in?

Vibrio bacteria thrive in warm coastal waters and can concentrate inside a variety of seafood including fish and shellfish that live in these waters. Examples of these are oysters, crabs, mussels, clams, and some fish.

What foods are associated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus?

Vibrio parahaemolyticus can be found in the same type of foods as the rest of the other vibrio genera. All vibrio bacterias can be found in fish and shellfish such as oysters, clams, mussels, and some other hard-shelled seafood that are grown or caught in contaminated waters.

Can you get Vibrio from salmon?

Yes, you can. Though rare, vibrio can develop in both cultured and wild marine fish in salt or brackish water, particularly in shallow waters during warm seasons between May and October.

Who is at the highest risk for vibrio?

According to the CDC, people who are high-risk are pregnant women, babies, young children, old people and those who have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cancer and even those that are undergoing chemotherapy because their immune system is at their lowest and is unable to defend against any infection in their bodies.

How do you prevent vibriosis?

The best and most effective way to prevent vibriosis is to avoid eating raw or undercooked fish or shellfish. If that can’t be helped, at least try to eat at a reputable restaurant with high regard for food safety. It would also be wise to avoid swimming at the beach if you have any open cuts or fresh wounds.

How do you treat a V. vulnificus infection?

For mild to moderate cases of vibrio vulnificus infections, physicians would usually prescribe antibiotics like doxycycline or cephalosporin to help your body fight the bacteria. Severe infections, especially originating from a fresh cut or wound, will likely need amputation to limit the spread of the bacteria to other parts of the body.

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Recent Vibrio reports

On august 26th my best friend and I ate here and got extremely sick from what we think was the oysters. Per our doctors symptoms indicate vibriosis. We were sick for over a week after consumption. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Something else See Less

The BC Centre for Disease Control is warning about a spike in illness associated with shellfish consumption in recent days. Five people have been sick with V. parahaemolyticus (vibriosis) in the last two weeks, according to the BCCDC.

The vibrio bacteria is naturally occurring in the ocean,... See More and grows in molluscan shellfish such as clams, oysters, and mussels. Here in B.C., shellfish harvesters are urged to check the BCCDC map before digging for clams, or collecting mussels and other shellfish to prevent serious illness.

In case you are experiencing vibrio symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance.

Source:  | Symptoms: Fever, Nausea, Diarrhea
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Washington State is recalling oyster shellstock harvested from the Samish Bay growing area in Skagit County, WA due to Vibrio parahaemolyticus contamination.

All oyster shellstock harvested from 6/29/2021 to 7/16/2021 is being recalled due to 4 single source Vibrio parahaemolyticus illnesses occurring from the harvest date 6/29/2021.... See More

Washington State is unsure of the other states impacted at this time.

In case you are experiencing vibrio symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance.

For more details check:

Source: ISSC and Washington Department of Health.
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Update July 21, 2021

DOH stated that there have been 52 cases reported on July, 26 from commercial oysters on an interview by King5 news.

Source: Washington Department of Health and King5 news

July 16, 2021

Washington Department of Health (DOH) informed that an outbreak of... See More vibriosis in Washington has already surpassed the highest number of cases ever recorded by the state for the month of July. Recent high temperatures and low tides in Washington State are likely to blame for the increased rate of illness, which is associated with eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters that are contaminated with Vibrio.

DOH advises the following to prevent illness from Vibrio:

- Cook at 145° F for 15 seconds to destroy Vibrio bacteria.
- Check the DOH Shellfish Safety Map before heading to the beach to harvest shellfish recreationally. Shellfish gathered from open and approved areas should be harvested as the tide goes out.
- Chill quickly. Bring a cooler with ice with you when harvesting shellfish recreationally or purchasing for a store or seafood stand (or have them packed on ice). Oysters should be put on ice or refrigerated as soon as possible.
- When preparing shellfish, people should wash hands frequently and not return cooked shellfish to the plate or cutting board where raw shellfish was prepared.

In case you are experiencing vibrio symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance.

For more details check:

Source: Washington Department of Health
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Got horribly sick with Vibrio, doubled over in pain for over 7 day’s after eating seafood Tower on aug 15 2020. State health department investigation and cdc Notified. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Other See Less

I was having dinner on July 25th. We ordered 手抓海鲜including crab lobster clam prawn. Myself having serious diarrhea and vomit on the next morning and direct admit to A&E. My friends also have the same diarrhea symptom as me. Doctor report shown tht i am infected of... See More Vibrio Virus which caused by undercook seafood or poor handling during seafood preparation. We call the shop next day but no response. Sad with the service. | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Vomiting See Less

We bought oysters from wegmans. Wife is pregnant she got vibrio. She has an active rash on her hands and is very sick
She is sick i am not. At least if i am it hasnt expressed itself yet. She ate the oyster with me aroung 930pm friday night | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting, Skin Rash See Less

On November 11, 2017 our waiter recommended dishes for our table to share which included raw oysters. I became violently ill from eating a bad oyster and ended up in the hospital. | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Fever, Nausea, Vomiting See Less

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