Vibrio vulnificus and other Vibrio bacteria live in warm seawater. Vibrio bacteria can cause illness when an open wound is exposed to seawater, or when a person eats contaminated seafood.
Skin infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulceration, and to bloodstream infections that can be fatal, especially among people with weakened immune systems.
Eating raw seafood – especially oysters – contaminated with Vibrio may cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Individuals with compromised immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease, are also likely to develop a bloodstream infection with fever and chills, blistering skin lesions and possibly death.
Precautions to Take
- Avoid exposure of broken skin to seawater. Wounds exposed to seawater should be washed with soap and water as soon as possible.
- If you have a compromised immune system, especially chronic liver disease, do not eat raw oysters.
- If you have wounds or any symptoms of infection, seek medical help immediately.