Vibrio Cholerae Bacteria
Vibrio cholerae bacteria can cause cholera, which is an acute, diarrheal illness that can result in severe dehydration and even death within a matter of hours. These bacteria are not likely to spread directly from one person to another; therefore, casual contact with an infected person is not a risk for becoming ill. There are two general types of Vibrio cholerae bacteria: Vibrio cholerae Serogroup O1, and Vibrio cholerae Serogroup non-O1.
Vibrio cholerae bacteria can cause cholera, which is an acute, diarrheal illness that can result in severe dehydration and even death within a matter of hours.
Vibrio cholerae bacteria are gram-negative rods (see Pictures of Cholera) that are facultatively anaerobic. That means they can survive either with or without oxygen.
There are two types of Vibrio cholerae bacteria:
- Vibrio cholerae Serogroup non-O1
- Vibrio cholerae Serogroup O1.
Vibrio cholerae Serogroup O1 is the type of Vibrio cholerae bacterium that is typically the cause of cholera. The other cause of cholera is Vibrio cholerae Serogroup O139, a Vibrio cholerae serogroup non-O1 bacterium. There are about 70 other species of Vibrio cholerae Serogroup non-O1; these other species rarely cause diarrhea.
Transmission of Vibrio Cholerae BacteriaA person may get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. During an epidemic, the source of Vibrio cholerae bacteria contamination is usually the feces of an infected person. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of drinking water and sewage.
It is also possible for Vibrio cholerae bacteria to live in the environment in brackish (saltwater) rivers and coastal waters. Shellfish, when eaten raw, have been a source of Vibrio cholerae bacteria, and a few people in the United States have contracted cholera after eating raw or undercooked shellfish from the Gulf of Mexico.
It is unlikely for Vibrio cholerae bacteria to spread directly from one person to another; therefore, casual contact with an infected person is not a risk for becoming ill.
Once Vibrio cholerae bacteria are ingested, the bacteria travel to the small intestine where they begin to multiply. Vibrio cholerae bacteria then begin to produce their toxin, which is the main cause of the characteristic cholera symptom: watery diarrhea.
A person needs to ingest a lot of Vibrio cholerae bacteria in order to develop symptoms of cholera. When the acids in the stomach are neutralized (following a meal or after taking antacids), the amount of Vibrio cholerae bacteria needed to produce symptoms is decreased.