Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium that can make people sick. It is found in warm, coastal waters around the United States and Canada.
What are the symptoms?
When swallowed, V. parahaemolyticus causes watery diarrhea often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills.
Severe disease is rare and occurs most often in people with weakened immune systems, such as people with AIDS, chemotherapy patients and organ transplant recipients.
V. parahaemolyticus can also enter an open sore and cause a skin infection.
How does infection with V. parahaemolyticus occur?
Most people get infected by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters from waters containing V. parahaemolyticus.
Once in the small intestine, the bacterium releases a toxin that causes the symptoms of illness. A skin infection can occur if the bacterium gets in an open sore.
How is V. parahaemolyticus infection diagnosed?
Vibrio organisms are found in the stool, wound or blood of infected people. A doctor may suspect V. parahaemolyticus infection if a patient has watery diarrhea and has recently eaten raw or undercooked seafood, especially oysters, or when a wound infection occurs after exposure to seawater.
How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?
Symptoms usually appear within 12-24 hours after exposure to bacterium and last 3 days.
How is V. parahaemolyticus treated?
Treatment is not necessary in most cases of V. parahaemolyticus infection. Patients should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost through diarrhea.
How is V. parahaemolyticus infection prevented?
Most illness caused by V. parahaemolyticus in the United States can be prevented by thoroughly cooking seafood, especially oysters.
Wound infections can be prevented by avoiding exposure of open sores to warm seawater.
How can I learn more about Vibrio parahaemolyticus?
Contact your doctor or Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.
Recorded information about problems associated with eating raw seafood is available at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at (800) 332-4010. A public affairs specialist is available 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.