Most infections caused by Vibrio 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 Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a common cause of foodborne disease. It accounts for 24 percent of the food poisoning cases in Japan. In the United States, Vibrio parahaemolyticus 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 Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections be reported to the state health department, but the Centers for Disease Control (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 Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections are reported each year.
- Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria have a natural reservoir in the brackish (salt) waters along the coast. They particularly thrive in warm, subtropical waters.
- The most common route of infections is from eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially raw oysters, harvested from those waters.
- Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections are seasonal, with a peak in the late summer and early fall, coinciding with the warmest water temperatures.