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Int J Food Microbiol. 2007 Jul 15;117(3):270-5. Epub 2007 Apr 25.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus strains isolated during investigation of the summer 2006 seafood related diarrhea outbreaks in two regions of Chile.

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Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos, Universidad de Chile, El Líbano 5524, Macul, Santiago 6903625, Chile.


Nine hundred cases of seafood related diarrhea were reported in the region of Puerto Montt, Chile during the austral summer of 2006. This is the continuation of the large outbreaks associated with the consumption of seafood containing the Vibrio parahaemolyticus serovar O3:K6 pandemic clonal group that arose last decade in Chile. The initial outbreaks occurred during the summer of 1998 in Antofagasta (23 degrees 39'S 70 degrees 24'W). Subsequently, outbreaks there were rare, but since 2004 outbreaks have been frequent farther south in Puerto Montt (41 degrees 29'S 72 degrees 24'W). The large outbreaks in Puerto Montt and their rarity in Antofagasta is atypical because the seawater temperature at Puerto Montt is 5 degrees C lower than at Antofagasta and the presence of V. parahaemolyticus in seafood has been associated with higher water temperatures. To better understand the role of seafood in outbreak occurrences in these regions, we analyzed the V. parahaemolyticus populations in clinical cases and shellfish from Puerto Montt during diarrhea outbreaks in 2006 and in shellfish from Antofagasta, where no cases were observed. Enrichment culture from shellfish yielded no V. parahaemolyticus from samples from the north, but its presence was detected in 80% of the samples from the south. Grouping of the V. parahaemolyticus isolates by the fragment restriction pattern of their DNA showed that all pathogenic (tdh+) isolates obtained from Puerto Montt shellfish corresponded to the serovar O3:K6 South East Asian pandemic clone, while the non-pathogenic (tdh-) isolates corresponded to at least six discrete groups. The possible causes for the disappearance of the pandemic strain from the north and its persistence in the south are discussed.

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