Vibrio are bacteria that can lead to an infection called vibriosis. Vibrio are found naturally in saltwater and are common to the coastal waters in the United States and Canada.

You can get sick after eating raw or undercooked shellfish (such as oysters, clams, mussels, lobster or crab) or by exposing a wound or broken skin to seawater. Vibrio infection is more common during summer months.

Any person can get vibriosis. People with liver disease, cancer or a weakened immune system are most at risk for getting very sick.


If you have been infected, you may start to experience the following symptoms in 12 to 24 hours:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Wound will look red and swollen


  • Do not eat raw shellfish. Cook all shellfish thoroughly.
  • Wash hands well with soap and warm water after touching raw seafood.
  • When preparing shellfish in the shell, take the following precautions:
    • Boil until the shells open and continue cooking for five more minutes, or
    • Steam until the shells open and continue cooking for ninemore minutes.
    • Boil shucked oysters at least three minutes, or fry them in oil for at least 10 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • 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.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Doctors can test for Vibrio in stool, wounds or blood. A doctor should check for this infection if you have watery diarrhea and have recently eaten seafood, especially if raw or undercooked, or when a wound or ear infection occurs after exposure to seawater.

Treatment is not usually necessary with less severe stomach infections. You should drink plenty of liquids when experiencing diarrhea.

For severe cases, a doctor can prescribe antibiotics. Wound or ear infections should be treated by a doctor.

More Information