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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Food Poisoning: Vibrio Vulnificus
Vibrio vulnificusfood poisoning is caused by Vibrio vulnificus, a bacterium that lives in warm seawater. The condition is rare.
Vibrio vulnificus food poisoning occurs when you eat seafood infected with the bacteria or you have an open wound that is exposed to them. The bacteria are frequently found in oysters and other shellfish in warm coastal waters during the summer months. People who have weak immune systems, especially those with long-term (chronic) liver disease, are at greater risk for this condition than other people.
In healthy people, Vibrio vulnificus food poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal (belly) pain. In people who have weak immune systems, the bacteria can infect the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness. Symptoms include fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin wounds. The infection is especially dangerous to people who have long-term (chronic) liver disease.
If an open wound is exposed to the bacteria (such as from warm seawater), sores may develop. People with weak immune systems are at risk for the bacteria moving into the bloodstream.
Vibrio vulnificus food poisoning is diagnosed based on a medical history and a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, foods you have recently eaten, and your work and home environments. If you have eaten raw seafood, especially oysters, your doctor may do a stool, wound, or blood culture.
You treat Vibrio vulnificus food poisoning by managing complications until it passes. Dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting is the most common complication. In people who have weak immune systems, or in people who have severe symptoms, antibiotics may be used.
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and other clear liquids until you feel better. You can take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte). Soda, fruit juices, and sports drinks have too much sugar and not enough of the important electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea. These kinds of drinks should not be used to rehydrate.
When you feel like eating again, start with small amounts of food. This will help you get enough nutrition.
The best way to prevent Vibrio vulnificus food poisoning is to not eat raw oysters or other raw shellfish and to cook all shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) thoroughly.
Boil shucked oysters for at least 3 minutes or fry them in oil for at least 3 minutes at 375°F (191°C). For shellfish in the shell, either:
Do not eat those shellfish that do not open during cooking.
You should also:
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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