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Am Fam Physician. 2007;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

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

  • Web site: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/vvfact.html

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