Oysters and Vibriosis: Causes of the Vibriosis Infection and Prevention

The food industry is progressing in leaps and bounds. As different cultures mingle or become a part of the community, you find new food variations. Yet, food remains a complex element. Sometimes, certain ingredients can trigger allergic reactions. Other times, the wrong preparation method can be the culprit. One wrong step and you can quickly turn a crowd-pulling dish into a food poisoning hotspot. Raw meat, poultry, and seafood are the most common food items that house harmful microbes. 

These microbes can cause different gastrointestinal disorders if they enter our systems. You may be familiar with the most common foodborne illnesses, but you are never completely prepared. So, today we shall learn more about Vibriosis – a seafood-related foodborne illness caused by the Vibrio bacteria.

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What causes Vibriosis?

As we stated earlier, Vibriosis is a foodborne illness caused by infection of the body by a bacteria called the Vibrio bacteria. It is a bacteria you mainly find in the warm coastal waters. So, any seafood harvested from such waters would be carriers of the bacteria. Unless the seafood is cooked correctly, the bacteria will remain active and cause Vibriosis. There are three major species of Vibrio bacteria found in the coastal waters of the United States:

  • Vibrio parahaemolyticus
  • Vibrio vulnificus
  • Vibrio alginolyticus

This bacteria thrives in warm conditions. So they are present in high concentrations between May and October.

How common is it?

Undercooked or raw shellfish is the prime suspect that causes Vibriosis. Yet you can even contract it when an open wound comes in contact with the seawater. This can happen when fishing for oysters and clams or even when cleaning the shellfish before food preparations. Hence, it is crucial to put in place thorough hand washing, especially before touching any other food items. As per CDC, 80,000 cases of Vibriosis are registered in the United States itself.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of vibriosis are like every other foodborne illness. Vibriosis infection begins with watery diarrhea. Over the next 48 hours, the patient suffers from abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever. The intensity might be severe for those with a compromised immune system. Similarly, people with any of the following disorders are more susceptible to be infected by Vibrio bacteria.

  • Taking immunosuppressive medications or therapy
  • Recently underwent a stomach-related surgery
  • Suffering from liver disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV, or thalassemia
  • Adults above 65 years age and kids

Depending on the species, the symptoms can be as mild as three days of stomach ailments or as severe as limb amputation or death.

How can you treat Vibriosis?

When infected with Vibriosis, a person suffers from diarrhea. So, they may lose a lot of water and face dehydration. Keep drinking enough fluids to replenish the lost water. For severe infections, doctors recommend antibiotics for quicker resolution. If the symptoms do not recede within five days of being infected, visit a hospital. Allow the doctors to identify any underlying medical condition that prevents recovery.

How to prevent Vibriosis?

Since these bacteria are active during the warmer months between May and October, it is better to avoid shellfish in that period. Otherwise, ensure you are thoroughly cooking the seafood to kill off the bacteria. Raw sushi is a strict no-no. For shellfish within the shell, boil till shells open and boil further for 3-5 mins. No one should consume any semi-open or unopened shellfish, and you should throw them away.

For those working in restaurants, ensure that you are washing the seafood immediately. If any of your employees have a recent wound like a piercing, tattoo, cut, bruise, or surgery wound, ask them to cover it over with a waterproof bandage. Ensure the knives, countertops, utensils, etc., used for cooking the seafood are cleaned. Use soapy water and wipe with kitchen towels or paper towels. Make sure there is no run-off from seafood mixing with other food items.

Wrapping Up

Like any other foodborne illness, Vibriosis can be lethal for your customers. Even worse is the aftereffects, its outbreak is fatal for your business. This is why the Health Department of Utah state makes it mandatory for everyone working in the restaurant business to be a holder of food handlers permit. To be certified, an individual needs to undergo the required training. Once they pass an examination that tests their knowledge, they get a temporary permit. This way, you gain knowledge about:

  • different allergies,
  • how you can infect the food with any foodborne illness,
  • the importance of storing food at the right temperature
  • many other things associated with handling food professionally.

Easy Food Handler is a state of Utah-recognized institution that provides online training. They also manage the paperwork for permanent Utah food handlers permit once you have passed the exam successfully.

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