Pandemic serovars (O3:K6 and O4:K68) of Vibrio parahaemolyticus associated with diarrhea in Mozambique: spread of the pandemic into the African continent

The pandemic strains of V. parahaemolyticus have been isolated for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa.

Forty-two episodes of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections were detected in Beira, Mozambique, from January to May 2004. The majority of the isolates (81%) belonged to the pandemic serovars (O3:K6 and O4:K68) of V. parahaemolyticus. The pandemic serovars were positive by group-specific PCR (GS-PCR) and a PCR specific for open reading frame ORF8 (ORF8-PCR), which are molecular markers of the pandemic clone, and were positive for tdh but negative for trh. The remaining 19% of the strains also possessed the tdh gene but were GS-PCR and ORF8-PCR negative and did not belong to the pandemic serovars. Patients with V. parahaemolyticus infection were older (mean age, 27 years) than patients infected by other diarrheal agents (mean age, 21 years). Ten percent of diarrhea patients from whom no V. parahaemolyticus was cultured were severely dehydrated, but none of the V. parahaemolyticus cases were severely dehydrated. This is the first report of the isolation of pandemic strains of V. parahaemolyticus in sub-Saharan Africa and clearly indicates that the pandemic of V. parahaemolyticus has spread into the African continent.