Atlas of foodborne infections
transmitted by contaminated food and water

Atlas of Patogens Contents Information sources Glossary Administration

Vibrio cholerae Serogroup O1


Fish and Fish Products
Water and Beverages


Foodborne Disease:
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cholera - vary from mild, watery diarrhoea to acute diarrhoea;
abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and shock; after severe fluid and electrolyte loss, death may occur

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Vibrio cholerae causes the infection called cholera. Cholera can be confirmed only by the isolation of the causative organism from the diarrheic stools of infected individuals. Symptoms of Asiatic cholera may vary from mild, watery diarrhoea to acute diarrhoea, with characteristic rice water stools. Onset of the illness is generally sudden, with incubation periods varying from 6 hours to 5 days. Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and shock; after severe fluid and electrolyte loss, death may occur. Illness is caused by the ingestion of viable bacteria, which attach to the small intestine and produce cholera toxin. The production of cholera toxin by the attached bacteria results in the watery diarrhoea associated with this illness.

Cholera is generally a disease spread by poor sanitation, resulting in contaminated water supplies. Sporadic cases occur when shellfish harvested from faecal polluted coastal waters are consumed raw. Cholera may also be transmitted by shellfish harvested from non-polluted waters since V. cholerae O1 is part of the autochthonous microbiota of these waters.

Individuals infected with cholera require rehydration either intravenously or orally with a solution containing sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, potassium chloride, and dextrose (glucose). The illness is generally self-limiting. Antibiotics such as tetracycline have been demonstrated to shorten the course of the illness. Death occurs from dehydration and loss of essential electrolytes. Medical treatment to prevent dehydration prevents all complications.

All people are believed to be susceptible to infection, but individuals with damaged or undeveloped immunity, reduced gastric acidity, or malnutrition may suffer more severe forms of the illness.

V. cholerae serogroup O1 and O139 may be recovered from foods by methods similar to those used for recovering the organism from the faeces of infected individuals. Pathogenic and non-pathogenic forms of the organism exist, so all food isolates must be tested for the production of cholera enterotoxin.


Vibrio cholerae
Source: Vibrio cholerae

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