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Vibrio Vulnificus Infection Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
 
Updated: Jun 06, 2016
 

History

V vulnificus infection should be suspected in patients who give a history of ingestion of raw seafood or wound infection after exposure to seawater. Patients with V vulnificus infection report abrupt GI symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain, and may present with fever, chills, or shock. V vulnificus is normally found in warm estuarial and marine environments, lodging in filter feeders such as oysters. It occurs mainly in patients with chronic liver disease after the consumption of raw oysters. Partridge et al reported a case that was likely contracted from a thermal pool in Turkey, with no history of seawater or shellfish exposure.[10]

V vulnificus septicemia is the most common cause of death from seafood consumption in the United States.[8] V vulnificus septicemia may first become evident in the skin as purpura fulminans, which can take a catastrophic course without immediate and intensive empirical antibiotic treatment.[11]

V vulnificus infection is a rare cause of necrotizing fasciitis, which can be fatal.[12, 13] Necrotizing fasciitis caused by V vulnificus progresses more rapidly with clinical characteristics more fulminant than either methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or methicillin-sensitive S aureus infection.[14]  The same may be true for V vulnificus as compared with Klebsiella pneumoniae–induced necrotizing fasciitis, being 2.5 days versus 5.5 days.[15]

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Physical

Most patients infected with V vulnificus have bullous skin lesions, which are found on the trunk and the lower extremities (see the image below). Infection of the hand has been reported.[16] These hemorrhagic bullae can progress to necrotic ulcerations, which require surgical debridement. Edema can be present.

Vibrio infections. Early bullous lesions appear ov Vibrio infections. Early bullous lesions appear over the dorsum of the foot of a patient with cirrhosis.

A rapid onset of cellulitis may represent infection with V vulnificus, especially if the patient had contact with seawater or raw seafood. Patients can progress to necrotizing fasciitis.[17]

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Causes

See Pathophysiology.

It is seen in a variety of seafood. V vulnificus can grow rapidly in shellfish owing to the ambient air conditions occurring with intertidal exposure.[18] A study of Vibrio species isolated from retail shrimp in Hanoi found 201 of 202 samples were positive, with most having Vibrio parahaemolyticus (96.5%) and V vulnificus documented much less often, specifically in only 1.5%.[19] Sanitary working conditions and well-cooked shrimp should be encouraged.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH Professor and Head of Dermatology, Professor of Pathology, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Visiting Professor, Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, New York Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Physicians, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Cris Jagar, MD Staff Physician, Department of Psychiatry, Trinitas Regional Medical Center

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

David F Butler, MD Section Chief of Dermatology, Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System; Professor of Dermatology, Texas A&M University College of Medicine; Founding Chair, Department of Dermatology, Scott and White Clinic

David F Butler, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, Alpha Omega Alpha, Association of Military Dermatologists, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for MOHS Surgery, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jeffrey P Callen, MD Professor of Medicine (Dermatology), Chief, Division of Dermatology, University of Louisville School of Medicine

Jeffrey P Callen, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Physicians, American College of Rheumatology

Disclosure: Received income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: XOMA; Biogen/IDEC; Novartis; Janssen Biotech, Abbvie, CSL pharma<br/>Received honoraria from UpToDate for author/editor; Received honoraria from JAMA Dermatology for associate editor and intermittent author; Received royalty from Elsevier for book author/editor; Received dividends from trust accounts, but I do not control these accounts, and have directed our managers to divest pharmaceutical stocks as is fiscally prudent from Stock holdings in various trust accounts include some pharmaceutical companies and device makers for i inherited these trust accounts; for: Celgene; Pfizer; 3M; Johnson and Johnson; Merck; Abbott Laboratories; AbbVie; Procter and Gamble; Amgen.

Chief Editor

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Craig A Elmets, MD Professor and Chair, Department of Dermatology, Director, Chemoprevention Program Director, Comprehensive Cancer Center, UAB Skin Diseases Research Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

Craig A Elmets, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Association of Immunologists, American College of Physicians, American Federation for Medical Research, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: University of Alabama at Birmingham; University of Alabama Health Services Foundation<br/>Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Ferndale Laboratories<br/>Received research grant from: NIH, Veterans Administration, California Grape Assn<br/>Received consulting fee from Astellas for review panel membership; Received salary from Massachusetts Medical Society for employment; Received salary from UpToDate for employment. for: Astellas.

References
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Vibrio infections. Early bullous lesions appear over the dorsum of the foot of a patient with cirrhosis.
 
 
 
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