Vibrio vulnificus is the leading cause of seafood associated mortality in the United States and is generally associated with consumption of raw oysters. Two genetic markers have emerged as indicators of strain virulence, 16S rDNA type B (rrnB) and virulence correlated gene type C (vcgC). While much is known about the distribution of V. vulnificus in oysters, a limited number of studies have addressed the more virulent subtypes. Therefore, the goals of this study were to (1) determine the suitability of media for recovery of total and virulent genotypes of V. vulnificus and (2) evaluate the geographical and seasonal distribution of these genotypes. Market oysters from across the United States and the strains isolated from them during a year-long study in 2007 were used. For media evaluation, VVA and CPC+ were compared using direct plating of oyster tissues while mCPC and CPC+ were compared for isolation following MPN enrichment. Representative isolates from each media/method were tested for rrn and vcg types to determine their seasonal and geographical distribution. No statistically significant difference was observed between VVA/CPC+ or mCPC/CPC+ for isolation of total or virulent (rrnB/vcgC) genotypes of V. vulnificus. Overall, 32% of recovered isolates possessed the virulent genotype. The prevalence of these genotypes was highest in oysters from the Gulf Coast during Oct-Dec, and demonstrated a statistically significant geographical and seasonal pattern. This is the first report on the distribution of virulent V. vulnificus genotypes across the United States, which provides novel insight into the occurrence of this pathogen.
During the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti, water and seafood samples were collected to detect Vibrio cholerae. The outbreak strain of toxigenic V. cholerae O1 serotype Ogawa was isolated from freshwater and seafood samples. The cholera toxin gene was detected in harbor water samples.
Pathogenic vibrios are a global concern for seafood safety and many molecular methods have been developed for their detection. This study compares several molecular methods for detection of total and pathogenic Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus, in MPN enrichments from oysters and fish intestine samples. This study employed the DuPont Qualicon BAX® System Real-Time PCR assay for detection of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus. Multiplex real-time PCR detection of total (tlh+), tdh+, and trh+V. parahaemolyticus was conducted on the Cepheid SmartCycler II. Total (rpoD) and tdh+V. parahaemolyticus were also detected using LAMP. V. vulnificus detection was performed using real-time PCR methods developed for the SmartCycler and the AB 7500 Fast. Recommended template preparations were compared to BAX® lysis samples for suitability. There was no significant difference in detection of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus using the BAX® or SmartCycler assays. The AB assay showed no difference from other methods in detection of V. vulnificus unless boiled templates were utilized. There was a significant difference in detection of tdh+V. parahaemolyticus between SmartCycler and LAMP assays unless the total (tlh+) V. parahaemolyticus gene target was omitted from the SmartCycler assay; a similar trend was observed for trh+V. parahaemolyticus.
Two samples of market oysters, primarily from retail establishments, were collected twice each month in each of nine states during 2007. Samples were shipped refrigerated overnight to five U.S. Food and Drug Administration laboratories on a rotating basis and analyzed by most probable number (MPN) for total and pathogenic Vibrio parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus numbers and for the presence of toxigenic V. cholerae, Salmonella spp., norovirus (NoV), and hepatitis A virus (HAV). Levels of indicator organisms, including fecal coliforms (MPN), Escherichia coli (MPN), male-specific bacteriophage, and aerobic plate counts, were also determined. V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus levels were distributed seasonally and geographically by harvest region and were similar to levels observed in a previous study conducted in 1998-1999. Levels of pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus were typically several logs lower than total V. parahaemolyticus levels regardless of season or region. Pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus levels in the Gulf and Mid-Atlantic regions were about two logs greater than the levels observed in the Pacific and North Atlantic regions. Pathogens generally associated with fecal pollution were detected sporadically or not at all (toxigenic V. cholerae, 0%; Salmonella, 1.5%; NoV, 3.9%; HAV, 4.4%). While seasonal prevalences of NoV and HAV were generally greater in oysters harvested from December to March, the low detection frequency obscured any apparent seasonal effects. Overall, there was no relationship between the levels of indicator microorganisms and the presence of enteric viruses. These data provide a baseline that can be used to further validate risk assessment predictions, determine the effectiveness of new control measures, and compare the level of protection provided by the U.S. shellfish sanitation system to those in other countries.
From June through October 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration collected oysters (61 samples) that had been subjected to postharvest processing (PHP) methods, including mild heat treatment, freezing, and high hydrostatic pressure, from processors and retail markets in various states to determine Vibrio vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus levels. Presence in a 25-g sample and most probable number (MPN) using standard enrichment and selective isolation procedures were utilized. Suspect colonies were isolated and identified using DNA probe colony hybridization. Neither species of vibrio was detected in 25-g portions of most samples regardless of the PHP. The lowest frequency of isolation of either pathogen (<10%) was observed with the mild heat process. Few (12 to 13%) frozen samples collected at the processor but not at retail contained >30 MPN/g of either pathogen. The mean levels of either organism in PHP oysters observed in the present study were 5 to 6 log less than in unprocessed raw Gulf Coast oysters. Of the 70 V. vulnificus isolates examined, only 5 possessed the putative virulence marker, type B 16S rRNA. Neither the thermostable direct hemolysin (tdh) nor the tdh-related hemolysin (trh) virulence gene was detected in any of the 40 V. parahaemolyticus isolates examined in the present study. These data suggest that if there is any selective advantage to pathogenic strains of V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus, these differences are minimal. These results indicate that all PHP treatments greatly reduce exposure of V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus to raw-oyster consumers. Consequently, these PHP oysters pose a much lower risk of illness to consumers due to these pathogens.
The applicability of real-time PCR was examined for detection of vibrios from postharvest-processed (PHP) oysters to allow for a more rapid assay and higher sample throughput than currently used. During June to October 2004, 68 PHP oyster samples were collected directly from PHP firms or from retail markets across the United States. PHP oysters were examined to determine the effectiveness of treatments in the reduction of vibrio levels and to compare the analytical methods utilized. The latter is the focus of the data presented here. Each sample was analyzed for Vibrio parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus by using a 2-dilution, three-tube most-probable-number (MPN) and a 25-g presence/absence enrichment in alkaline peptone water. Following 6-h and overnight enrichment, aliquots from each MPN tube and the 25-g sample were streaked onto selective media and tested by real-time PCR. Colonies from the selective agar were confirmed as V. parahaemolyticus or V. vulnificus by DNA colony hybridization. DNA hybridization and real-time PCR results for each MPN tube and the 25-g enrichment at both time points were analyzed individually for each organism. The methods were in agreement for 857 (95%) of 901 and for 882 (98%) of 903 tubes for detection of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus, respectively. Overall, there was 96% agreement between real-time and DNA colony hybridization. The results obtained by real-time PCR were comparable to those from DNA colony hybridization, but analysis time was significantly reduced for the detection of vibrios in PHP-treated oysters.
Information is limited about the growth and survival of naturally-occurring Vibrio parahaemolyticus in live oysters under commercially relevant storage conditions harvested from different regions and in different oyster species. This study produced a predictive model for the growth of naturally-occurring V. parahaemolyticus in live Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) harvested from the Chesapeake Bay, MD, USA and stored at 5-30 °C until oysters gapped. The model was validated with model-independent data collected from Eastern oysters harvested from the Chesapeake Bay and Mobile Bay, AL, USA and Asian (C. ariakensis) oysters from the Chesapeake Bay, VA, USA. The effect of harvest season, region and water condition on growth rate (GR) was also tested. At each time interval, two samples consisting of six oysters each were analyzed by a direct-plating method for total V. parahaemolyticus. The Baranyi D-model was fitted to the total V. parahaemolyticus growth and survival data. A secondary model was produced using the square root model. V. parahaemolyticus slowly inactivated at 5 and 10 °C with average rates of -0.002 and -0.001 log cfu/h, respectively. The average GRs at 15, 20, 25, and 30 °C were 0.038, 0.082, 0.228, and 0.219 log cfu/h, respectively. The bias and accuracy factors of the secondary model for model-independent data were 1.36 and 1.46 for Eastern oysters from Mobile Bay and the Chesapeake Bay, respectively. V. parahaemolyticus GRs were markedly lower in Asian oysters. Harvest temperature, salinity, region and season had no effect on GRs. The observed GRs were less than those predicted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations V. parahaemolyticus quantitative risk assessment.
In this study, 77 clinical and 67 oyster Vibrio parahaemolyticus isolates from North America were examined for biochemical profiles, serotype, and the presence of potential virulence factors (tdh, trh, and type III secretion system [T3SS] genes). All isolates were positive for oxidase, indole, and glucose fermentation, consistent with previous reports. The isolates represented 35 different serotypes, 9 of which were shared by clinical and oyster isolates. Serotypes associated with pandemic strains (O1:KUT, O1:K25, O3:K6, and O4:K68) were observed for clinical isolates, and 7 (9%) oyster isolates belonged to serotype O1:KUT. Of the clinical isolates, 27% were negative for tdh and trh, while 45% contained both genes. Oyster isolates were preferentially selected for the presence of tdh and/or trh; 34% contained both genes, 42% had trh but not tdh, and 3% had tdh but not trh. All but 1 isolate (143/144) had at least three of the four T3SS1 genes examined. The isolates lacking both tdh and trh contained no T3SS2? or T3SS2? genes. All clinical isolates positive for tdh and negative for trh possessed all T3SS2? genes, and all isolates negative for tdh and positive for trh possessed all T3SS2? genes. The two oyster isolates containing tdh but not trh possessed all but the vopB2 gene of T3SS2?, as reported previously. In contrast to the findings of previous studies, all strains examined that were positive for both tdh and trh also carried T3SS2? genes. This report identifies the serotype as the most distinguishing feature between clinical and oyster isolates. Our findings raise concerns about the reliability of the tdh, trh, and T3SS genes as virulence markers and highlight the need for more-detailed pathogenicity investigations of V. parahaemolyticus.
Postharvest growth of Vibrio vulnificus in oysters can increase risk of human infection. Unfortunately, limited information is available regarding V. vulnificus growth and survival patterns over a wide range of storage temperatures in oysters harvested from different estuaries and in different oyster species. In this study, we developed a predictive model for V. vulnificus growth in Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) harvested from Chesapeake Bay, MD, over a temperature range of 5 to 30°C and then validated the model against V. vulnificus growth rates (GRs) in Eastern and Asian oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis) harvested from Mobile Bay, AL, and Chesapeake Bay, VA, respectively. In the model development studies, V. vulnificus was slowly inactivated at 5 and 10°C with average GRs of -0.0045 and -0.0043 log most probable number (MPN)/h, respectively. Estimated average growth rates at 15, 20, 25, and 30°C were 0.022, 0.042, 0.087, and 0.093 log MPN/h, respectively. With respect to Eastern oysters, bias (B(f)) and accuracy (A(f)) factors for model-dependent and -independent data were 1.02 and 1.25 and 1.67 and 1.98, respectively. For Asian oysters, B(f) and A(f) were 0.29 and 3.40. Residual variations in growth rate about the fitted model were not explained by season, region, water temperature, or salinity at harvest. Growth rate estimates for Chesapeake Bay and Mobile Bay oysters stored at 25 and 30°C showed relatively high variability and were lower than Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)/WHO V. vulnificus quantitative risk assessment model predictions. The model provides an improved tool for designing and implementing food safety plans that minimize the risk associated with V. vulnificus in oysters.
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