types of Vibrio vulnificus infections can occur as a result
of an at-risk individual consuming a raw oyster(1).
Gastroenteritis – Occurs after ingestion of oysters
containing Vibrio vulnificus. Non at-risk
patients with gastroenteritis have a relatively mild illness consisting
of vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps and rarely require hospitalization.
septicemia – Occurs after oysters containing Vibrio
vulnificus are consumed and the bacteria invade the bloodstream
via the digestive tract. The illness is characterized by fever and chills,
and is usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. A sharp
drop in blood pressure commonly occurs, with possible outcomes of intractable
shock and possibly death. The majority of patients also develop painful
skin lesions. The skin initially appears red. Blisters develop quickly
and erode into necrotic ulcers.
At-risk individuals who choose to continue eating
raw oysters may reduce their risk of illness by consuming post-harvest
processed oysters. However, eating oysters fully cooked is the most
effective method of reducing the risk of oyster related illness in persons
who are members of the at-risk group.
Healthy individuals are not at risk of serious infection.
Although Vibrio vulnificus infection is diagnosed by routine
stool, wound or blood culture, laboratories should be notified when
this infection is suspected so that a special growth medium can be used
to culture this bacterium.
The mainstays of medical treatment for Vibrio vulnificus infections
are prompt antimicrobial therapy and supportive care. The American Medical
Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend
treating the patient with a regimen of antibiotics including tetracycline
and intravenous doxycycline with ceftazidime.