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What is Vibrio?

IVSAT 2024

The world of microorganisms is a fascinating one. The study of the microbes has revealed a lot of new things related to symbiosis, parasitism, and lichen life forms. One of the most feared diseases that terrified human civilization back in the 18th century is the vibrio family of the bacteria species. 

The Vibrio bacteria are comma-shaped bacteria that caused vibriosis and other diseases. In this section, we will study elaborately the different features and traits of this bacterium species.

Why is Vibrio Considered a Pathogen?

Over the years, the discovery and observations of the bacterial world revealed the different strains. Some of them are helpful or friendly. Some species do not actively participate in harming or helping our physiology. Many of these species actually harm the human population by creating disease. These bacteria are called pathogens. They enter a host from the carriers, use the resources and start reproducing at a remarkable rate. One such genus of bacteria is vibrio.

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Vibrio is the name coined for comma-shaped Gram-negative bacteria causing food-borne infections. These bacteria are found in anaerobic conditions and cause food-related infections. In most cases, undercooked food is the prime source of this genus of bacteria. As per its physiology, it is called facultative anaerobes and it does not form spores. It also shows positive results when tested for oxidase.

These bacteria can move as they have a flagellum in the lateral or polar position. This flagellum can either be sheathed or unsheathed. This genus is a preliminary species of an organism or a prokaryote containing only a pair of chromosomes as the nuclear material. This feature is what makes vibrio bacteria different from the rest of the clan. The remarkable factor is that these two chromosomes are non-identical and originate from two different sources. The origin of these two chromosomes dictates a different method of replication and independence.

In 1773, vibrio was considered a different genus due to the presence of multiple species. In 1854, Paccini isolated these bacteria from cholera patients and found that they can move. The movements were sort of like vibrations and hence called them vibrions.

Strains of Vibrio

Most strains of this genus cause infection and diseases in human physiology. Most of the species cause gastrointestinal infections or gastroenteritis. They can also infect wounds that are not properly covered or being treated well. The quick reproduction rate and advancement in their generations cause sepsis.

The first species found and coined as a pathogen is Vibrio cholerae. This species is found in saltwater or brackish water. In fact, these bacteria live symbiotically on the chitin shells of the crabs, shrimps, and other species of shellfish. When shellfish is not cooked properly, the strains of these bacteria exist and can cause food poisoning or gastrointestinal infection. It has caused cholera and obliterated villages several decades back. The toxin created by Vibrionaceae cholera was isolated in 1954 and proved to be causing the symptoms of cholera.

Another species, in this context, is the Vibrio anguillarum. This species is responsible for the formation of septicemic infection in a host. These bacteria generally enter the host’s body via open wounds and then start reproducing at a very fast pace. This particular septicemia is called vibriosis. It can cause ulceration (both external and internal), abdominal distention, flesh rot, loss of appetite, lethargy, etc.

Vibrio vulnificus is another species with the same features. It has a comma-shaped body with motility powers. These Gram-negative bacteria also cause cholera and sepsis in the host body. It has also been found that these bacteria cause necrosis of open wounds.

How to Cure Vibriosis?

The treatment depends on the medical condition developed by a patient. On further testing, the species is identified and the treatment is planned accordingly.

  • Gastroenteritis

It is a self-limiting infection that can be cured using antibiotics and oral fluid therapy. Most patients are given IV fluid therapy. Considering the condition, the doctors proceed with antibiotic treatment to eradicate the infection.

  • Non-cholera Vibriosis

In this case, patients are promptly administered an antibiotic course. Fluid replacement goes on continuously. Vasopressors are given for reducing hypotension. The patient can aggressively move towards septic shock. It depends on the condition of the patients and the vibrio shaped parasite species attacking the host.

In some cases, doctors also have to perform fasciotomy to prevent necrosis and to stop the bacteria from spreading in the rest of the body. If the patient is suffering from wound necrosis, regular debridement is also very important to remove the residing bacteria as much as possible.

A culture of the wound is done and then proceeded to identify the species. The treatment can also be planned once the strains affecting the host body are identified. Despite the fact, the preliminary treatment is initiated identifying the symptoms to slow down the bacterial growth and then kill the rest of the residing ones.


In this section, we have studied the bacterial infection caused by the Vibrio genus. Study the zoological features of this preliminary prokaryote and find out the difference with other bacterial species. Study the difference between Vibrio vulnificus and cholerae to understand and identify. Follow the treatment methods of the different infections caused by this genus.

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FAQs on Vibrio

Q1. Why was the Name ‘Vibrio’ Coined?

Ans. The name was given to the bacteria present in the patients suffering from cholera. Paccini observed that these bacteria are motile and vibrate. The term ‘vibrio’ is Latin and means ‘to quiver’. Due to the special movement of these prokaryotes, the strain has been named ‘vibrio’. It is a genus name that comes before the species name of this type of bacteria such as vulnificus.  

Q2. Where Do We Generally Find Vibrio?

Ans. The prime source of this anaerobic genus is saltwater or brackish lagoons. They reside on the shells of crabs, lobsters, prawns, etc. This is why seafood should be cooked properly to kill all the strains and then eaten to avoid contamination by Vibrio cholera and other species. These bacteria can cause cholera, sepsis, and necrosis of open wounds.

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