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Mayor Wu announced a heat emergency in the City of Boston through Wednesday, July 17. Cooling centers will be open at 14 BCYF community centers Monday through Wednesday, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about vibriosis.

Vibriosis is an illness caused by bacteria called vibrio. Vibrio lives in fish and shellfish living in saltwater.

The basics

How is vibriosis spread?

Most people get infected by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. In rare cases infection can happen when exposed wounds touch warm salt water with the bacteria.

How is vibriosis diagnosed?

You can isolate vibrio organisms from stool, wound, or blood. Your health care provider will determine which type of sample would be best to send to the laboratory. 

Are there any health regulations for people with vibriosis?

Yes. Vibriosis is a disease that can spread to other people. Health care providers in Boston are legally required to report cases to the BPHC. To protect the public, workers with vibriosis at food-related businesses must stay out of work until they don't have diarrhea. BPHC must also clear them to return to work. 


What are the symptoms of vibriosis?

Vibrio can cause watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. Symptoms usually start within 24 hours of eating the organism. Illness is usually self-limited and lasts 3 days. Severe disease is rare and occurs more commonly in people with weakened immune systems.


Can you prevent vibriosis?

Yes. Cook seafood, especially oysters. If an outbreak comes from an oyster bed, health officials recommend closing the oyster bed until conditions improve. Also avoid exposing open wounds to warm seawater.


How is vibriosis treated?

Treatment depends on the type of infection and the particular germ. Some cases need antibiotics. Other cases need supportive treatment. Infected people should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost through diarrhea. In severe cases, infected people may need antibiotics. Talk to your health care provider if you have symptoms. 

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