Vibrio parahaemolyticus

This bacterium is frequently found in estuarine and marine waters of the United States. and from fish and shellfish dwelling in these environments

V. parahaemolyticus -associated gastroenteritis is the name of the infection caused by this organism.


Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills are associated with infections. Illness is mild or moderate, although some cases require hospitalization. The duration of the illness is about 2.5 days. The incubation period is 4-96 hours after the ingestion of the organism, with a mean of 15 hours. The organism attaching itself to the small intestine and excreting a toxin causes disease.


Culturing the organism from the diarrheic stool makes the diagnosis. Infections are associated with eating raw, improperly cooked, or cooked, recontaminated fish and shellfish. An association exists with infection and warmer months of the year.



Several other marine vibrios are associated with human disease. Some may cause wound or ear infections, and others, gastroenteritis.. The species implicated in human disease include:

  Vibrio alginolyticus Vibrio furnissii Vibrio carchariae Vibrio hollisae Vibrio cincinnatiensis Vibrio metschnikovii Vibrio damsela Vibrio mimicus Vibrio fluvialis


MMWR 47(22):1998

MMWR 48(03):1999



Vibrio Vulnificus


Vibrio vulnificus, is found in estuarine environments and associated with various marine species such as plankton, shellfish (oysters, clams, and crabs), and finfish. It is found in all of the coastal waters of the United States. Environmental factors responsible for controlling members of V. vulnificus in seafood d and in the environment include temperature, pH, salinity, and increased dissolved organics.

This organism causes wound infections, gastroenteritis, or a syndrome known as "primary septicemia."

Wound infections result either from contaminating an open wound with sea water harboring the organism, or by lacerating part of the body on coral, fish, etc., followed by contamination with the organism. Eating V. vulnificus by healthy individuals can result in gastroenteritis. The "primary septicemia" form of the disease follows consumption of raw seafood containing the organism by people with chronic disease (such as liver disease diabetes, cirrhosis, or leukemia, or those who take immunosuppressive drugs) where the bacterium enters the blood, resulting in sepsis and death(about 50%). These individuals should be strongly advised not to consume raw or inadequately cooked seafood, as should AIDS patients.

The culturing of the organism from wounds, diarrheic stools, or blood confirms the diagnostic.

The bacterium has been isolated from oysters, clams, and crabs.


MMWR 45(29):1996

MMWR 42(21):1993