(HealthDay News) – Vibrio parahaemolyticus serotypes O4:K12 and O4:KUT, which were considered unique to the Pacific Northwest region, were identified in New York state and in Spain in 2012, according to a letter to the editor published in the Oct. 17 issue the New England Journal of Medicine.

Jaime Martinez-Urtaza, PhD, from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm, and colleagues discuss the spread of V. parahaemolyticus, focusing on two outbreaks that occurred in the summer of 2012 and involved serotypes O4:K12 and O4:KUT, previously considered unique to the Pacific Northwestern region.

The researchers note that both outbreaks were linked to consumption of seafood. On serologic tests, polymerase chain reaction assays for virulence factors, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and multi-locus sequence typing, clinical isolates from patients infected during the U.S. and Spanish outbreaks in 2012 were highly similar to Pacific Northwest strains, indicating commonality among outbreak strains. Possible mechanisms of introduction of V. parahaemolyticus include importation and storage of live contaminated bivalve shellfish, ballast water movement, and long-disease oceanic transportation of strains into new regions. Both outbreaks corresponded temporally and spatially with higher-than-normal surface seawater temperatures, which has been linked to the prevalence of V. parahaemolyticus and illnesses.

“We advocate continued and improved national and international collaboration and data sharing to help recognize and respond to future outbreaks of V. parahaemolyticus infection,” the authors write.

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