Infections related to the ingestion of seafood Part I: Viral and bacterial infections

Lancet Infect Dis. 2004 Apr;4(4):201-12. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(04)00969-7.


Foodborne diseases cause an estimated 76 million illnesses in the USA each year. Seafood is implicated in 10-19% of these illnesses. A causative agent can be traced in about 44% of seafood-related outbreaks, viruses accounting for around half of these illnesses. Although viruses are the most common cause of seafood-related infections, most hospitalisations and deaths are due to bacterial agents. A wide variety of viruses, bacteria, and parasites have been implicated in seafood-related outbreaks, which are reported worldwide. The factor most commonly associated with infection is consumption of raw or undercooked seafood. People with underlying disorders, particularly liver disease, are more susceptible to infection. The first part of this two-part review summarises the general incidence of seafood-related infections and discusses the common viral and bacterial causes of these infections. For each agent, the microbiology, epidemiology, mode of transmission, and treatment are discussed. In the May issue of the journal we will discuss parasites associated with seafood consumption, the safety of seafood, and the measures put in place in the USA to increase its safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections* / epidemiology
  • Bacterial Infections* / etiology
  • Bacterial Infections* / mortality
  • Cooking
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Gastroenteritis* / epidemiology
  • Gastroenteritis* / etiology
  • Gastroenteritis* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Seafood* / microbiology
  • Seafood* / parasitology
  • Seafood* / virology
  • Shellfish / microbiology*
  • Shellfish / virology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Virus Diseases / epidemiology
  • Virus Diseases / etiology*