Microbiology - Cholera (Vibrio cholerae)
Strains of Vibrio cholerae possessing the somatic 01 or O139 antigen (V. cholerae:01 or V. cholerae:O139) are associated with epidemic cholera, while those lacking this antigen (V. cholerae non-01, non-cholera vibrio), cause sporadic diarrheal disease and do not present a public health threat. Although cholera is not endemic in the U.S., cases may be imported by travelers returning from countries where the disease is prevalent.
Isolates of V. cholerae are tested in the Atypical (Special) Bacteriology laboratory at the SLPH for the presence of the 01 and the O139 antigens; those presumptively identified as V.cholerae 01 or O139 are forwarded to the CDC for definitive identification and toxin testing and the Epidemiology and Communicable Disease Section is notified of potential cholera cases. Confirmed isolates of non-01 V.cholerae are not further identified or epidemiologically investigated.
Direct reference isolates of Vibrio spp. to the Atypical Bacteriology Lab with a completed DHHS form 4121.
Sporadic cases of non-cholera gastroenteritis are associated with salt water exposure or consumption of raw or insufficiently cooked contaminated seafood.
The Enteric Unit examines stool specimens and foods implicated in Vibro-associated illness. Submit stool specimens in unrefrigerated Enteric Culture mailers with a completed DHHS form #3390 (PDF, 345 KB); indicate on the form that Vibrio is suspected.
Please telephone the Enteric Unit before submitting stool or food specimens when Vibro-associated diarrheal disease is suspected.
Submit refrigerated but not frozen food samples as quickly as possible after collection in an insulated container with a completed DHHS form #1814 (Food/Environmental Sample Collection Report).
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