Vibrio cholerae O139 Bengal: odyssey of a fortuitous variant

Microbes Infect. 2003 Apr;5(4):329-44. doi: 10.1016/s1286-4579(03)00035-2.


Vibrio cholerae O139, the new serogroup associated with epidemic cholera, came into being in the second half of the year 1992 in an explosive fashion and was responsible for several outbreaks in India and other neighbouring countries. This was an unprecedented event in the history of cholera and the genesis of the O139 serogroup was, at that time, thought to be the beginning of the next or the eighth pandemic of cholera. However, with the passage of time, the O1 serogroup of the El Tor biotype again reappeared and displaced the O139 serogroup on the Indian subcontinent, and there was a feeling among cholera workers that the appearance of this new serogroup may have been a one-time event. The resurgence of the O139 serogroup in September 1996 in Calcutta and the coexistence of both the O1 and O139 serogroups in much of the cholera endemic areas in India and elsewhere, suggested that the O139 serogroup has come to stay and is a permanent entity to contend with in the coming years. During the past 10 years, intensive work on all aspects of the O139 serogroup was carried out by cholera researchers around the world. The salient findings on this serogroup over the past 10 years pertinent to its prevalence, clinico-epidemiological features, virulence-associated genes, rapid screening and identification, molecular epidemiology, and vaccine developments have been highlighted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / classification
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Bacterial Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Bacterial Vaccines / classification
  • Bacterial Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Cholera / epidemiology*
  • Cholera / microbiology
  • Cholera / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Inovirus / genetics
  • Lipopolysaccharides / chemistry
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Epidemiology / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Vibrio cholerae O139 / genetics*
  • Vibrio cholerae O139 / immunology
  • Vibrio cholerae O139 / pathogenicity
  • Virulence / genetics


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Lipopolysaccharides