Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that occurs naturally
in the warm, salty waters of estuaries and oceans. It can
be found in a wide number of sources, including water, sediment,
plankton, fish, crabs, shrimp, oysters and clams.
organism is able infect humans who ingest it (typically
through eating raw oysters) or through a wound caused while
handling or cleaning fish, crabs, oysters, etc. An existing
wound may also serve as a source of infection from the bacteria
Fortunately, most healthy people are resistant to infection.
However, individuals with certain types of chronic, underlying
diseases are at serious risk. Persons with diabetes, cirrhosis
and other liver diseases, gastric disorders, leukemia, cancer,
lung carcinoma, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS),
AIDS-related complex(ARC) and asthma requiring the use of
steroids should avoid consuming raw shellfish or inadequately
such persons, Vibrio vulnificus is one of the most
invasive and rapidly fatal human pathogens known. Infection
in this group of individuals could result in the "primary
septicemia" form where the mortality rate is more than
following ingestion generally occur within 16 to 38 hours
and include fever, chills, a decrease in blood pressure
and the development of "secondary lesions" typically
on the legs. These lesions begin as fluid-filled blisters,
which progress and result in extensive destruction of muscle
tissue often requiring amputation of the affected limb.
Persons infected with V. vulnificus through wounds
also develop fever and chills, with redness, swelling, pain
and tissue destruction at the site of the wound, but do
not develop the secondary lesions typical of ingestion cases.
The fatality rate for wound infections is approximately
25 percent, with deaths occurring primarily in persons with
the underlying diseases listed above.
Individuals who are considered in the "at risk"
group should take the following precautions to avoid vibrio
eat raw shellfish or improperly cooked seafood.
Avoid contaminating wounds with seawater, fish or other
Avoid handling crabs, fish, oysters and shrimp with bare
hands. Wear gloves, long sleeves, long pants and shoes
if you must handle these products.
Clean any wounds received from fish or other seafood or
wounds that come into contact with seawater, mud, etc.
with alcohol or other appropriate disinfectants.
more information, visit www.vibrio.com
and read the "Bad Bug Book" by the U.S. Food and