Environmental occurrence and clinical impact of Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus: a European perspective


  • This article ‘Environmental occurrence and clinical impact of Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus: a European perspective’ was written by Craig Baker-Austin,1 Louise Stockley,1 Rachel Rangdale1 and Jaime Martinez-Urtaza2 of 1Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Weymouth, Dorset, UK, and 2Instituto de Acuicultura, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Campus Universitario Sur, Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It is published with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

E-mail craig.baker-austin@cefas.co.uk; Tel. (+44) 1305 206619; Fax (+44) 1305 206601.


Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus are ubiquitous Gram-negative bacterial pathogens found naturally in marine and estuarine waters, and are a leading cause of seafood-associated bacterial illness. These pathogens are commonly reported in the USA and in many Asian countries, including China, Japan and Taiwan; however, there is growing concern that V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus may represent an important and increasing clinical problem in Europe. Several factors underlie the need for a greater understanding of these non-cholera vibrios within a European context. First, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus infections are increasing, and tend to follow regional climatic trends, with outbreaks typically following episodes of unusually warm weather. Such findings are especially alarming given current predictions regarding warming of marine waters as a result of global climatic change. Second, a myriad of epidemiological factors may greatly increase the incidence as well as clinical burden of these pathogens – including increasing global consumption and trade of seafood produce coupled to an increase in the number of susceptible individuals consuming seafood produce. Finally, there is currently a lack of detailed surveillance information regarding non-cholerae Vibrio infections in Europe, as these pathogens are not notifiable in many countries, which probably masks the true clinical burden of many human infections. This review will present a pertinent overview of both the environmental occurrence and clinical impact of V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus in Europe.