Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring marine bacterium. It can cause a fulminant and life-threatening illness (50% mortality) in patients with the following conditions:
- Liver disease
- Gastric disorders
- Hemochromatosis/hemolytic anemia
- Chronic renal failure
- Other conditions that result in immunosuppression
Immediate treatment of high-risk patients is necessary to prevent death. Educating high-risk patients about how to avoid infection can save lives.
Vibrio vulnificus infection can occur from exposing open wounds or sores to seawater (60% of U.S. cases) or by eating raw or undercooked shellfish (40% of U.S. cases), especially oysters.
Symptoms of infection may be vague or include:
- Gastroenteritis/abdominal pain
- Hemorrhagic bullous skin lesions on trunk or extremities that develop into necrotic ulcers
Healthy patients are not at risk for serious illness but may experience severe cellulitis from wound infection or gastroenteritis from eating raw shellfish, especially oysters.