Vibrio in seafood: FAQs | Allen and Allen

Vibrio in seafood: FAQs

You might have heard news reports about seafood being contaminated with Vibrio. But what is Vibrio? Is it a parasite, or a disease? This article discusses Vibrio and provide tips on how to avoid getting sickened by this pathogen.


What is Vibrio?

Vibrio is a bacterium that naturally occurs in coastal waters. Though it can be found year-round, higher concentrations can be found from late spring to early fall when temperatures are warm.

What is vibriosis, and how do people get it?

Vibrio can cause an illness called vibriosis. There are many different types of Vibrio, but not all species are harmful to human health. The most common types of Vibrio that can cause vibriosis are Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Vibrio alginolyticus.

Most people contract vibriosis from consuming raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters. But consumption isn’t the only way to become sick. If Vibrio is present in brackish water (a mix of fresh and salt waters, where the river meets the sea), swimmers who go into the water with an open would are at risk for contracting vibriosis.

Individuals with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of contracting vibriosis. This is especially true for individuals who suffer from chronic liver disease.

What are the symptoms of vibriosis?

The symptoms of vibriosis usually appear within the first 24 hours after ingestion or exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Chills

Typically, vibriosis lasts around three days. In severe cases, especially for those with compromised immune systems and chronic liver disease, hospitalization may be required.

raw oysters and lemon on a plate

Is vibriosis fatal?

Most people recover from vibriosis within 2-3 days with no lasting effects. However, individuals who are exposed to Vibrio vulnificus, which is the most dangerous species of Vibrio, can become seriously ill, and sometimes require intensive care or limb amputation. About 1 in 5 people die from Vibrio vulnificus, sometimes only within a day or two of falling ill.

How can I prevent myself from getting vibriosis?

You can decrease your risk to Vibrio by avoiding raw or undercooked seafood – particularly raw oysters. Another way to reduce your risk is to avoid swimming in brackish water if you have an open wound, recent piercing, or tattoo until the wound has closed.

If you or a loved one has suffered a foodborne illness through the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced foodborne illness attorneys at Allen & Allen today for a free consultation, at 866-388-1307.