Pathogens

Vibrio – Infection, Transmission & Diseases

Vibrio

Bacteria of the genus Vibrio belong to the gram-negative bacteria. Most bacteria of this species live in water. A well-known pathogen of the family is Vibrio cholerae , the causative agent of cholera .

What are Vibrio bacteria?

Bacteria of the genus Vibrio are also known as vibrios . Vibrios are gram-negative bacteria. They can be stained red in the Gram stain. In contrast to gram-positive bacteria, gram-negative bacteria have a thin layer of peptidoglycan made of murein. In addition, they are surrounded by an outer cell membrane .

The gram-negative vibrios are curved rod -shaped bacteria . On their outer wall they have so-called unipolar flagella. Flagella are cell extensions that serve as locomotor organelles for the bacteria. Flagellated bacteria like vibrios can swim towards targets or move away from injurious locations. These operations are referred to as positive and negative taxis.

Well-known representatives of the Vibrios are Vibrio alginolyticus, Vibrio harveyi, Vibrio parahaemolyticus , Vibrio natriegens, Vibrio cholerae and Vibrio fischeri. The pathogens Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio vulnifiucs and Vibrio parahaemolyticus are dangerous for humans.

Occurrence, Distribution & Properties

Vibrios are native to freshwater and saltwater. Thanks to their flagella, the rod-shaped bacteria can move in the water in a targeted manner. The pathogen Vibrio cholerae also feels particularly at home in brackish and coastal waters. Ingestion through contaminated water is the main route of infection. The main source of infection is usually insufficiently treated drinking water. Food that has come into contact with the contaminated water is also potentially infectious. For example, fruit and vegetables are contaminated during fertilization or sprayed with contaminated water. A person can also become infected with cholera by eating food. Vibrio cholerae is more commonly found in fish or seafood.

Patients suffering from cholera excrete the pathogen with stool or vomit. The pathogen can still be detected in the stool for a few weeks. However, smear infections are a rarer source of infection.

While the cholera pathogen is more likely to be found in Asia and Africa today, Vibrio vulnifiucs also feels at home on the German Baltic Sea coast due to the low salt content and the strong warming. Vibrio vulnifiucs commonly enters the body through the consumption of seafood, and particularly oysters. However, the rod-shaped bacteria can also enter the body through open wounds when swimming or wading in contaminated water . The tiniest of injuries are sufficient for this. As long as the water is cold, the bacteria are on the sea floor. As soon as the sea warms up to 15 to 20 ° Celsius, they rise and multiply rapidly.

The pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus also lives in seawater. This pathogen lives mainly in South and North America. Infections with Vibrio parahaemolyticus also rarely occur in Europe. Sources of infection are primarily fish and seafood.

Diseases & Ailments

The pathogen Vibrio cholerae causes the serious bacterial infectious disease cholera. However, cholera only breaks out in about 15 percent of people who have contracted the pathogen. People with blood group AB very rarely develop symptoms. People with blood group 0 are particularly at risk.

The first symptoms appear two to three days after contact with the pathogen. Cholera typically has three stages. The first stage is accompanied by sudden onset of vomiting diarrhea. The thin stool is often interspersed with mucus flakes. It is therefore also known as the rice water chair. Pain occurs only rarely.

The second stage is characterized by dehydration. A lot of fluid is lost due to the persistent diarrhea . The fluid loss can be up to 20 liters per day. Due to the loss of water and salt, the patients have a high and very hoarse voice, the so-called vox cholerica. The loss of electrolytes leads to muscle cramps . The patients’ faces are sunken, their eyes are sunken. Blood pressure is low, heart is beating very fast. Hardly any pulse can be felt on the extremities .

In the third stage the body reacts with drowsiness up to coma . The patients are confused. Complications such as pneumonia , inflammation of the parotid glands or sepsis can occur.

Acute gastroenteritis usually results from infection with pathogenic strains of Vibrio parahaemolyticus . This gastrointestinal inflammation initially manifests itself as fatigue , nausea and vomiting . After a few hours, diarrhea sets in. The stomach symptoms usually subside by then. Depending on the extent of the disease and the damage to the intestinal mucosa , the diarrhea can be bloody. The intestinal activity is increased, so that cramp-like abdominal pain can occur. Fever and dizziness are also possible symptoms. If diarrhea or vomiting persists, the loss of fluid can lead to andesiccation (dehydration).

If the pathogen Vibrio vulnificus enters the body via the digestive tract , vomiting and diarrhea occur. Diarrhea and vomiting are accompanied by severe abdominal pain. The pathogen can also enter the body through minimal injuries. Dermatitis with blisters then develops at the point of entry . The blisters burst quite quickly, leaving bleeding and painful wounds. In people with a weakened immune system , life-threatening sepsis can develop within a short time.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.