What We Should Know About Vibrio Parahaemolyticus


          Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a halophilic (salt requiring) bacterium. It is naturally found in marine environments where marine salt provides it a favorable growing environment. Seafood, including marine fish, shellfish, mollusks and crustaceans, is commonly contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolticus (eg. shrimp, crab, oyster and squid, etc.).


          Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a common causative agent of food poisoning. However, it is not heat resistant and can be killed by high temperature.


How is Vibrio parahaemolyticus transmitted to human?

1.       The most common mode of transmission is via consumption of raw or undercooked seafood;

2.       Improper food handling causes cross-contamination and makes other foods contaminate with Vibrio parahaemolyticus.


What are the symptoms of infection caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus ?

1.       The incubation period can range from 2 to 48 hours;

2.        Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fever;

3.        The duration of illness usually lasts for about 2 to 5 days;

4.        Consult the doctor immediately if you do not feel well after consumption of seafood.


How to prevent infection caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus?

Safety tips to the public

1.       Smart Purchasing. Ensure safe sources of water and food.

l  Purchase seafood from reputable and licensed suppliers;

l  Do not buy seafood from unlicensed vendors and do not smuggle any seafood which has not gone through entry quarantine inspection;

l  Do not buy unfamiliar seafood or seafood from unknown sources;

l  Select fresh shellfish with intact shell only.


2.       Proper Handling. Separate raw and cooked to avoid cross contamination.

l   While shopping, keep raw seafood separate from other food;

l   Separate raw seafood from cooked food;

l   Use two sets of utensils for handling raw and cooked food;

l   Seafood should be stored at low temperature to inhibit microbial growth;

l   Wash hands thoroughly before handling food.


3.       Thorough Cooking. All food should be cooked thoroughly.

l   Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked seafood, especially for high risk populations such as children, elderly, pregnant or immuno-compromised individuals;

l   Shellfish should be cooked until shell opened, and continue to cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes to ensure it is thoroughly cooked;

l   Do not cook too much seafood at one time to avoid uneven cooking.


Safety tips to the Industry

1.       Food should be cooked thoroughly;

2.       Prevent ready-to-eat food from being contaminated by tainted food, utensil, human or other sources;

3.       All ready-to-eat food should be stored at proper temperature (keep cold dish below 5, hot dish at above 60).


Combined efforts of government, food industry and public are required.