Vibrio Outbreaks: What They Are and How to Stop Them

Food safety is the most important thing in food service. In fact, failing to follow safety guidelines can cause mass outbreaks. if you handle food that the public consumes. According to WHO, food spreads more than 200 different diseases. Fortunately, it’s easy to reduce that risk by following proper food safety guidelines. Here is what you need to know about one such type of outbreak — vibrio outbreaks — and how you can use food safety to mitigate against them.

Vibrio vs. Salmonella

Salmonella is a well-known bacteria even among the general public. It is often the one type we think of when it comes to illnesses caused by contaminated contaminated food, and we often focus our efforts on preventing it. However, illnesses caused by Vibrio bacteria should not be overlooked. While salmonella is often found in raw meats, Vibrio infects raw seafood such as shellfish and oysters. Vibrio naturally lives in water by the coast, unlike salmonella which thrives in animal intestines. The symptoms of illnesses caused by both bacteria are largely the same: pain, fever, and diarrhea.

How Serious Is Vibriosis?

The illness caused by Vibrio bacteria is called vibriosis. In many cases, the symptoms will be mild and people can recover on their own within a few days. However, if someone has a weakened immune system, the illness could become very dangerous. There are also different types of vibriosis with varying degrees of seriousness. According to the CDC, a type called Vibrio vulnificus can even cause death.

How to Prevent Vibrio Outbreaks

To effectively prevent Vibrio outbreaks, all employees should wash their hands well and at the appropriate times. Utensils should also be sanitized regularly and surfaces wiped down. Avoid cross-contamination between products and equipment, and always cook food to the appropriate temperature and for the right length of time. ServSafe training is an effective way to ensure your employees know the best food safety practices and follow through with them. In many states, getting your employees certified may even be the law.

How Are Vibrio Illnesses and Outbreaks Treated?

Most cases of Vibrio illnesses will run their course for a few days and the patient will recover just fine.
It’s important to drink plenty of water during this time. Antibiotics may be used in more severe instances. In the case of Vibrio vulnificus, limb amputations may be necessary, according to the CDC. Outbreaks are controlled by closing the restaurant, recalling the food, and disinfecting facilities. It is also important to ensure food handlers have completed ServSafe training to help prevent the spread.

Vibrio outbreaks should not be taken lightly. They are a danger to the public and can come with serious health risks. The proper food and health information can help both the public and food handlers stay ahead of these risks. If you are a restaurant or other food service business owner, be sure to get your food handlers ServSafe certification as soon as possible. Doing so could save a life.