Extinction of Vibrio cholerae in acidic substrata: contaminated fish marinated with lime juice (ceviche)

Rev Biol Trop. 1994 Dec;42(3):479-85.


Millions of Vibrio cholerae O1 El Tor were rapidly eliminated when added to commercial ceviche prepared by marination of mahi-mahi fish in lime juice. Likewise, large masses of viable vibrios present in laboratory contaminated fish, were readily eliminated after immersion in lime juice, during the preparation of ceviche. The killing effect was evident within 5 min of exposure of vibrios to lime juice, with reductions of more than 99.9% of the initial bacterial mass. After 2 h of marination of fish with lime juice (the minimum recommended), no vibrios were detected in the lowest working dilutions (1:10, 1:100). The Vibrio mass eliminated by lime juice was 2 to 6 logarithms greater than the maximum infectious dose, and 4 to 8 logs greater than the minimum infectious dose to induce cholera El Tor. Also, the killing time was shorter than the elapsing time between preparing and serving food in homes or restaurants. The traditional marination of fish with lime juice or its addition to seafood and meals immediately before consumption, should be protected and promoted to prevent infection with cholera vibrios. In the face of an epidemic of cholera, consumption of ceviche prepared with lime juice would be one of the safest ways to avoid infection with V. cholerae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholera / prevention & control*
  • Citrus*
  • Fishes*
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Vibrio cholerae*