Vibrio cholerae is a “comma” shaped Gram-negative bacteria with a single, polar flagellum for movement. There are numerous strains of V. cholerae, some of which are pathogenic and some of which are not. The most wide sweeping pathogenic strain is the Vibrio cholerae serotype O1 El Tor N16961 strain that causes the pandemic disease cholera.
The bacteria infects the intestine and increases mucous production causing diarrhea and vomiting which result in extreme dehydration and, if not treated, death. It is usually transmitted through the feces of an infected person, often by way of unclean drinking water or contaminated food. Since water treatment and sanitation is more advanced in the United States, cholera is not nearly as high of a public health threat in the US as it is in densely populated, economically reduced areas like India or sub-Saharan Africa where water and sewage treatment technology is low.
Key characteristics: Gram(-), catalase(+), oxidase(+), sacarose(+), lysine(+), ornithine(+), mannitol(+).