Translate This Page Print This Page Email a Friend Newsletter Sign-Up
Text Size : Sm Med Lg

Sample Image

Back to Health Topics A-Z Homepage
Vibrio parahaemolyticus

腸炎弧菌(又稱副溶血性弧菌)簡介 (Chinese fact sheet, PDF)

What is Vibrio?
Vibrio are bacteria (germs) that cause an infection in the intestine. It is found naturally in saltwater and is common to the coastal waters in the United States and Canada. It is more common during summer months. For data on Vibrio in New York City visit EpiQuery.
How does infection with Vibro occur?
Most people become infected by eating raw or undercooked shellfish (such as oysters, clams, mussels, lobster and crab). People can also get sick if cooked food comes in contact with the germ. This can happen when hands are not properly washed after touching raw shellfish, or if utensils and cutting boards used for raw shellfish are not washed properly after use. Less commonly, this germ can cause a skin infection if an open wound or broken skin comes in contact with seawater.
What are the symptoms of Vibrio?
Vibrio can cause watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of exposure. Generally, people get sick for about 2 to 3 days and fully recover. Severe disease is rare and occurs more commonly in persons with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV infection or people being treated for cancer.
How common is infection with Vibrio?
It’s hard to know exactly, because people who are mildly sick with the infection may not go to the doctor. In Asia, Vibrio is a common cause of foodborne disease. In the United States, it is less common.
How is Vibrio infection diagnosed?
Vibrio organisms can be found in stool (feces), wounds, or blood. A doctor should check for this infection with a special test if a patient has watery diarrhea and has eaten seafood, especially if raw or undercooked, or when a wound infection occurs after exposure to seawater.
How is Vibrio treated?
Treatment is not usually necessary. It helps to drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost through diarrhea. In severe or prolonged illnesses, antibiotics can be used.
How do shellfish get contaminated with Vibrio?
Vibrio occurs naturally in saltwater. When the appropriate conditions occur with regard to salt content and temperature, Vibrio thrives.
How is Vibrio infection prevented?
  • Do not eat raw shellfish – cook all shellfish thoroughly.
  • Wash hands well with soap and water after touching raw seafood.
  • When preparing shellfish in the shell, take the following precautions:
    • Boil until the shells open and continue cooking for 5 more minutes, or
    • Steam until the shells open and continue cooking for 9 more minutes.
    • Boil shucked oysters at least 3 minutes, or fry in oil for at least 10 minutes at 375°F.
    • Discard shellfish that do not open during cooking.
  • Keep raw seafood and their juices away from other foods.
  • Eat cooked shellfish promptly and refrigerate leftovers right away.
  • Protect open wounds or broken skin against contact with saltwater, brackish water and shellfish.
  • Use gloves when touching raw shellfish.
How can I learn more about Vibrio?
Talk to your doctor, visit nyc.gov/health, or call 311 and ask for information on "Vibrio."

Last Updated: March 2012