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Vibrio spp. infections

Nature Reviews Disease Primersvolume 4, Article number: 8 (2018) | Download Citation


Vibrio is a genus of ubiquitous bacteria found in a wide variety of aquatic and marine habitats; of the >100 described Vibrio spp., ~12 cause infections in humans. Vibrio cholerae can cause cholera, a severe diarrhoeal disease that can be quickly fatal if untreated and is typically transmitted via contaminated water and person-to-person contact. Non-cholera Vibrio spp. (for example, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio alginolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus) cause vibriosis — infections normally acquired through exposure to sea water or through consumption of raw or undercooked contaminated seafood. Non-cholera bacteria can lead to several clinical manifestations, most commonly mild, self-limiting gastroenteritis, with the exception of V. vulnificus, an opportunistic pathogen with a high mortality that causes wound infections that can rapidly lead to septicaemia. Treatment for Vibrio spp. infection largely depends on the causative pathogen: for example, rehydration therapy for V. cholerae infection and debridement of infected tissues for V. vulnificus-associated wound infections, with antibiotic therapy for severe cholera and systemic infections. Although cholera is preventable and effective oral cholera vaccines are available, outbreaks can be triggered by natural or man-made events that contaminate drinking water or compromise access to safe water and sanitation. The incidence of vibriosis is rising, perhaps owing in part to the spread of Vibrio spp. favoured by climate change and rising sea water temperature.

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  1. Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Weymouth, UK

    • Craig Baker-Austin
    •  & Jaime Martinez-Urtaza
  2. Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, USA

    • James D. Oliver
  3. Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC, USA

    • James D. Oliver
  4. icddr,b, formerly known as the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Dhaka, Bangladesh

    • Munirul Alam
    •  & Firdausi Qadri
  5. Department of Environmental and Global Health, College of Public Health & Health Professions and Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI), University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

    • Afsar Ali
  6. Department of Microbiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

    • Matthew K. Waldor


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Introduction (C.B.-A.); Epidemiology (A.A., M.A. and J.M.-U.); Mechanisms/pathophysiology (J.D.O. and M.K.W.); Diagnosis, screening and prevention (J.D.O. and F.Q.); Management (J.D.O. and F.Q.); Quality of life (M.A. and C.B.-A.); Outlook (A.A., C.B.-A. and J.M.-U.); Overview of Primer (C.B.-A.).

Competing interests

All authors declare no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Craig Baker-Austin.

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