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All Vibrio species are reportable diseases in Oklahoma. Vibrio organisms are a genus of gram-negative bacteria possessing a curved rod shape. Several species of Vibrio are clinically important human pathogens: Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Vibrio vulnificus.  Most strains are associated with gastroenteritis but can also infect open wounds and cause septicemia. Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus are generally transmitted via contaminated coastal water or consumption of raw seafood, particularly oysters. Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed through direct contact with seawater, shellfish, and marine wildlife.

Cholera became rare in the United States following the introduction of modern sewage and water treatment systems, although a few imported or domestically acquired cases continue to be reported each year. The disease now occurs largely in parts of the world that have inadequate water treatment facilities. A person may get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with Vibrio cholerae. People traveling to foreign countries with insufficient public sanitation and water treatment are at a greater risk. Cholera bacteria are found in the stool or vomit of an infected person, which can directly contaminate food or water. A person who is infected can also spread the bacteria by not washing his or her hands after going to the bathroom, followed by handling uncooked foods, such as raw fruit or vegetables, that are eaten by others. A person can also become infected with cholera by eating contaminated shellfish such as clams and oysters.

Several species of Vibrio are clinically important human pathogens: Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Vibrio vulnificus. Anyone can become sick with vibriosis, but certain individuals may be more likely to get infected or develop complications. People who are at increased risk include:

  • Those with liver disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV, or thalassemia
  • People receiving immune-suppressing therapies
  • Those taking medication to decrease stomach acid levels 
  • People who have had recent stomach surgery 

All Vibrio species are reportable diseases in Oklahoma.

  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked oysters or other shellfish. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw shellfish. 
  • Avoid salt water or brackish water if you have a wound, including surgery wounds, piercings, or tattoos. Wash wounds and cuts with soap and water if they have come in contact with seawater or raw seafood.

If you believe you are ill with vibriosis, contact your medical provider. Let them know if you have recently come in contact with salt water, brackish water, or raw seafood.

When ingested, symptoms of vibriosis include water diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. Vibrio bacteria can also cause a skin infection when in contact with open wounds.