Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection - including symptoms, treatment and prevention
Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium found in marine, coastal and tidal waters, and most commonly causes gastroenteritis (gastro).
Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection is a notifiable condition1
How Vibrio parahaemolyticus is spread
Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection can be acquired by eating raw or undercooked shellfish or drinking contaminated water. Eating raw oysters is the most common way the infection is spread as the organism naturally lives in the warm tidal waters where oysters grow. Eating raw or undercooked fish and crustaceans, such as crabs and lobsters, has also been associated with food-borne outbreaks of this infection.
Less commonly, the organism causes wound infections when seawater contaminates open wounds.
V. parahaemolyticus does not usually spread from person to person, however, person-to-person spread is possible if there is poor personal hygiene.
Signs and symptoms of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection
Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection causes symptoms of gastro including:
watery diarrhoea (occasionally bloody diarrhoea)
Symptoms usually occur within 24 hours of eating the contaminated food.
Usually symptoms are mild to moderate in severity and lasts around 3 days (range from 8 hours to 12 days). However, the infection can be severe in people with immunosuppression, such as people receiving cancer treatment.
Where V. parahaemolyticus infects a wound, symptoms around the wound may include:
pus or discharge.
Diagnosis of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection
Diagnosis is made by testing of faeces, wound swab or other clinical specimens.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
Usually around 24 hours but can be between 4 to 96 hours.
(time during which an infected person can infect others)
V. parahaemolyticus does not usually spread from person to person.
Treatment for Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection
Antibiotic treatment is not usually needed for V. parahaemolytiticus gastro, however, in cases with prolonged diarrhoea, antibiotic therapy may be needed.
The following are general recommendations for the treatment of gastro:
Give plenty of fluids. Oral rehydration solution is highly recommended for children and adults with mild to moderate dehydration. It is available at pharmacies and should be administered following the instructions on the packaging.
Give mildly unwell children their usual fluids more often; however avoid carbonated (fizzy) drinks or undiluted juice.
Do not give medicines to prevent vomiting or diarrhoea (especially in children), except where specifically advised by a doctor.
Continue to breastfeed babies throughout their illness.
Children on formula or solid diets should restart their normal diet (including full strength lactose containing milk) following rehydration with oral rehydration solution.
Give children who are hungry their usual foods, but avoid foods high in sugar or fat.
Seek medical advice if wound infection is suspected. Wound infections should be treated with antibiotics. Also seek medical advice if any of the following symptoms develop:
signs of dehydration, such as being thirsty, decreased urination, lethargy, dry mouth, feeling faint on standing
severe abdominal pain
signs of dehydration, such as thirst and decreased urination, lethargy, dry mouth, sunken eyes, feeling faint on standing
any symptoms in a child less than 12 months of age.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection
Infections with V. parahaemolyticus can be prevented by the following measures:
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