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V. cholerae

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Synonyms: Comma bacillus
Contaminant Type: Microbial

Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae) is a bacterium that causes cholera in humans [1678]. V. cholerae is a facultative anaerobic, gram-negative bacterium species that belongs to the family Vibrionaceae and the genus Vibrio. V. cholerae includes more than two hundreds of recognized serogroups; however, only two serogroups O1 and O139 are found responsible for epidemic and pandemic cholera so far [1675]. Serogroup O1 can be further categorized into two serotypes (Ogawa and Inaba) and two biotypes (classical and El Tor) [1675]. All four combinations of serotype and biotype exist [1678].

The natural habitat of V. cholerae as well as other Vibrio species is the aquatic ecosystem [1678]. They are often associated with phytoplankton and crustaceans [1678]. The optimal growth conditions are 37 °C and pH 7.6 [1677]. However, V. cholerae may enter a viable but non-culturable survival form under unfavorable conditions [1675]. El Tor serogroup can survive in food for two to five days at room temperature, and as long as nine days at 5 °C to 10 °C [1683]. The survival period of El Tor in water vary according to water type, source and presence of chlorine as a disinfectant [1683]. In raw groundwater and seawater without chlorine, El Tor can survive for ten to thirteen days at room temperature [1683].

Cholera is an illness caused by toxin produced by V. cholerae, and is characterized by sever watery diarrhea [1675]. While most people infected with V. cholerae do not develop symptoms, a small percent of people can develop acute watery diarrhea with severe dehydration, which can lead to death if untreated [1682]. The infectious dose of cholera is estimated to be 108 organisms in buffered saline, which can be affected by various factors, for example, stomach acidity [1669]. V. cholerae can be killed by acid (pH below 4.5) and high temperature [1677, 1668].

Cholera pandemics occurred in 19th century killed millions of people across all countries, and it is still endemic in many countries. In the United States, cholera infections are well controlled by improvements in sanitation, quality of water supplies and food hygiene. 114 cholerae cases were reported during 1991 to 2002; five cases were reported in 2008 [1679, 1680]. Foreign travel, contaminated seafood and wound exposure to contaminated water accounted for most cholerae cases in the United States [1680, 1681].

V. cholerae is currently not regulated by United States Environmental Protection Agency in drinking water.  It was considered for, but not added to, Contaminant Candidate List 3.

No occurrence data for V. cholerae were found for source water currently used for drinking water in the United States.

Date of Literature Search: August 2010

1668 Rice, E.W. and Johnson, C.H.; 1991; Cholera in Peru; The Lancet; 338:8764:455
1669 Cash, R.A.,S., Music, I., Libonati, J.P., Snyder, M.J., Wenzel, R.P. and Hornick, R.B.; 1974; Response of man to infection with Vibrio cholerae. 1. Clinical serologic and bacteriologic responses to a known inoculum; J. Infect. Dis.; 129:1:45
1675 Nair G.B., Sack, D.A, Gorbach, S.L. (Ed.), Bartlett, J.G. (Ed.) and Blackflow, N.R. (Ed.); 2004; Vibrios; Infectious Diseases; Chapter 199. pp. 1693-1697, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.
1677 New Zealand Food Safety Authority; 2001; Vibrio cholerae; http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/science/data-sheets/vibrio-cholerae.pdf; As posted on August 18, 2010. New Zealand Food Safety Authority
1678 Craun, G., Swerdlow, D., Tauxe, R., Clark, R., Fox, K., Geldreich, E., Reasoner, D. and Rice E.; 1991; Prevention of waterborne cholera in the United States; J. AWWA; 83:11:40
1679 Craun, M.F., Craun, G.F., Calderon, R. and Beach, M.J.; 2006; Waterborne outbreaks reported in the United States; Journal of Water and Health; 4: Suppl 2: 19
1680 Hall-Baker, P.A., Nieves, E., Jajosky, R.A., Adams, D.A, Sharp, P., Anderson, W.J., Aponte, J.J., Aranas, A.E., Katz, S.B., Mayes, M., Wodajo, M.S., Onweh, D.H., Baillie, J. and Park, M.; 2008; Summary of Notifiable Diseases - United States, 2008; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 57: 54. pp. 17 and 34. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, GA.
1681 Groseclose, S.L., Hall, P.A., Knowles, C.M., Adams, D.A., Park, S., Perry, F., Sharp, P., Anderson, W.J., Snavely, K., Fagan, R.F., Aponte, J.J., Jones, G.F., Nitschke, D.A., Worsham, C.A., Glynn, M.K., Chang, M.H., Doyle, T. and Jajosky, R.A.; 2001; Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1999; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 48:53. pp. 7 . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, GA.
1682 WHO; 2010; Cholera; Cholera; Fact Sheet No. 107. World Health Organization.
1683 Pesigan, T.P., Plantilla, J. and Rolda, M.; 1967; Applied studies on the viability of El Tor Vibrios; Bull World Health Organ.; 37: 5: 779