Vibrio Vulnificus Infections

Vibrio vulnificus infection is caused by the bacteria Vibrio Vulnificus and is characterized by 2 distinct syndromes: a) an overwhelming infection resulting in shock and extensive blood blisters on the skin in those who have cirrhosis of the liver or any other immunocompromise or b) skin soft tissue infection from contaminated water entering wounds.

Where does it occur?

It occurs in coastal areas of the United States, as well as Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Israel.

How is it transmitted?

Immunocompromised individuals or those with chronic liver disease acquire the infection by eating raw or undercooked seafood. Immunocompetent individuals develop infection when wounds get infected by contaminated water.

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is not contagious from person to person.

What is the risk for travelers?

The risk is low unless ingesting raw or undercooked seafood or having wounds in contaminated water.

How soon after exposure will I develop symptoms?

Symptoms develop anywhere from 12 hours to 3 days after exposure.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Individuals with chronic liver disease (cirrhosis) or other immunocompromise develop fever and chills followed by shock and development of skin lesions. Skin lesions can present as blood filled blisters to necrotic tissue. Individuals, who are otherwise healthy, can develop skin infections after exposure to infected water to breaks on the skin. These lesions are characterized by diffuse redness, swelling, and are intensely painful to touch.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

Bacteria can be cultured from blood or wounds to diagnose the illness.

Is there any treatment?

Antibiotics like Tetracycline, Ceftazidime and Ciprofloxacin are effective.

Wounds may need surgical drainage.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood and avoid having skin come into contact with contaminated water.

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