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Vibrio Parahaemolyticus

The Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacterium can cause gastrointestinal illness in humans. It is in the same family as Vibrio cholerae, the cause of cholera. Most people become infected with this type of bacteria by eating contaminated shellfish that is raw or undercooked. When ingested, the bacteria can cause a number of symptoms, including watery diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.


What Is Vibrio Parahaemolyticus?

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium that is in the same family as the bacterium that causes cholera (Vibrio cholerae). Vibrio parahaemolyticus causes gastrointestinal illness in humans.
Vibrio 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. Most reports of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections in the United States come from Atlantic coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and Hawaii.

What Illnesses Are Caused by It?

Vibrio parahaemolyticus most commonly causes a gastrointestinal illness that results in three days of diarrhea. Most cases require no treatment other than drinking fluids to replace those lost from the diarrhea.
Less commonly, the bacteria can also cause infections outside of the intestines. The illnesses can include:
  • Wound infections (occurring when an open wound is exposed to warm seawater)
  • Otitis media or otitis externa (ear infections)
  • Sepsis (very rare).

Transmission of Vibrio Parahaemolyticus

Most people become infected with the bacterium by eating contaminated raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. Oysters become contaminated because Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a naturally occurring organism that is commonly found in waters where oysters are cultivated. When the appropriate salt water and temperature conditions exist, Vibrio parahaemolyticus thrives.
Less commonly, Vibrio parahaemolyticus can cause an infection in the skin when an open wound is exposed to warm seawater.


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