Vibrio Vulnificus

Diagnosing Vibrio Vulnificus

In order to make a Vibrio vulnificus diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam to look for signs of infection. If the doctor suspects Vibrio vulnificus, he or she may recommend a microbiologic culture of the wound (a blood culture); the doctor may recommend a stool culture in the case of people who consumed raw or undercooked seafood.

Treatment for Vibrio Vulnificus

Because of the seriousness of a Vibrio vulnificus infection, treatment may be started before the results of the cultures are known. When an infection is suspected, treatment uses a combination of a third-generation cephalosporin (e.g., ceftazidime) and doxycycline antibiotics.
Vibrio vulnificus wound infections should be treated with aggressive attention to the wound site; amputation of the affected limb is sometimes necessary.

What Is the Prognosis?

Vibrio vulnificus infection is an acute illness, and those who recover should not expect long-term consequences. However, sepsis is fatal about 40 percent of the time. Wound infections are fatal about 20 percent of the time. Aggressive surgical treatment can prevent death in a number of cases.

Vibrio Vulnificus: A Summary

It is important to remember these facts about Vibrio vulnificus:
  • Vibrio vulnificus bacterium have a natural reservoir in the brackish (salt) waters along the coast. They particularly thrive in warm, subtropical waters.
  • The most common route of Vibrio vulnificus infections is from eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially raw oysters, harvested from those waters.
  • Vibrio vulnificus infections are seasonal, with a peak in the late summer and early fall, coinciding with the warmest water temperatures.


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