Indigenous Vibrio cholerae strains from a non-endemic region are pathogenic

Open Biol. 2013 Feb 13;3(2):120181. doi: 10.1098/rsob.120181.


Of the 200+ serogroups of Vibrio cholerae, only O1 or O139 strains are reported to cause cholera, and mostly in endemic regions. Cholera outbreaks elsewhere are considered to be via importation of pathogenic strains. Using established animal models, we show that diverse V. cholerae strains indigenous to a non-endemic environment (Sydney, Australia), including non-O1/O139 serogroup strains, are able to both colonize the intestine and result in fluid accumulation despite lacking virulence factors believed to be important. Most strains lacked the type three secretion system considered a mediator of diarrhoea in non-O1/O13 V. cholerae. Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) showed that the Sydney isolates did not form a single clade and were distinct from O1/O139 toxigenic strains. There was no correlation between genetic relatedness and the profile of virulence-associated factors. Current analyses of diseases mediated by V. cholerae focus on endemic regions, with only those strains that possess particular virulence factors considered pathogenic. Our data suggest that factors other than those previously well described are of potential importance in influencing disease outbreaks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Cholera / epidemiology
  • Cholera / genetics*
  • Cholera / microbiology*
  • Cholera Toxin / genetics
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing
  • Vibrio cholerae / pathogenicity*
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • Virulence Factors
  • Cholera Toxin