Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Vibrio vulnificus Infection: What You Should Know


Am Fam Physician. 2007 Aug 15;76(4):546.

  See related article on Vibrio vulnificus infection.

What is Vibrio vulnificus infection?

Vibrio vulnificus (VIB-ree-oh vul-NIF-i-cus) is a germ found in warm seawater. If you eat shellfish (especially oysters) or other seafood that has the germ, you can get an infection.

Who gets infected?

V. vulnificus infection is uncommon. Most people get it by eating raw oysters. If you have an open cut, you can get the germ by going in the ocean or touching raw seafood. You can't get it from other people.

What are the symptoms?

Most healthy people don't get sick even if they are infected. People with liver disease, kidney disease, or diabetes can get very sick if they are infected.

If you get sick from V. vulnificus, you might have a fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. You may also have redness, swelling, blisters, and bruising on your skin. If you have a cut, it could get infected.

What if I think I am infected?

Go to your doctor or the hospital right away. Do not wait because the infection spreads quickly.

Your doctor may test your blood or the blisters to tell if the infection is caused by V. vulnificus. Your doctor may give you medicine to stop the infection. Some patients need surgery.

How can I avoid getting infected?

Be sure to cook seafood thoroughly to kill the germ. Try not to touch raw seafood juices, and make sure to wash kitchen utensils in hot, soapy water.

If you have an illness that makes it more likely that you will get sick, avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood. If you have an open cut, you shouldn't do activities in seawater (for example, swimming, fishing, or boating).

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Web site: (go to Vibrio vulnificus)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Web site:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Jul 1, 2020

Access the latest issue of American Family Physician

Read the Issue

Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents.

Sign Up Now

Navigate this Article