Vibrio vulnificus

Vibrio vulnificus

Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus) and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus) are bacteria that occur naturally in warm coastal areas, such as theGulf of Mexico. These bacteria are found in higher concentrations in the summer months when water gets warmer.

Vibrios typically cause disease in people who eat contaminated seafood.

  • V. parahaemolyticus typically causes non-bloody diarrhea.
  • In persons with liver disease, cancer, or another immune-compromising condition, V. vulnificus typically infects the bloodstream, causing a  life-threatening illness. About half of V. vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal, and death can occur within two days. In addition to transmission by raw shellfish, V. vulnificus can enter the body via a wound that is exposed to warm seawater


Raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly raw oysters

Incubation Period

  • V. vulnificus: 1-7 days
  • V. parahaemolyticus: 2-48 hours


  • In healthy individuals: Diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain
  • In high-risk individuals: Sudden chills, fever, shock, skin lesions

Duration of Illness

2-8 days

What Do I Do?

If you develop severe illness within a few days after eating raw or undercooked shellfish or after being exposed to warm coastal water, contact your doctor.

How Can I Prevent Illness? Avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

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