Vibrio ocular infections on the U.S. Gulf Coast

Cornea. 2000 Jan;19(1):26-9. doi: 10.1097/00003226-200001000-00006.


Purpose: To describe the epidemiology of Vibrio eye infections.

Method: We reviewed the records of a patient from our institution with V. vulnificus keratitis and conducted a literature search for other cases of ocular infections with Vibrio species.

Results: A 39-year-old fisherman was struck in his left eye with an oyster shell fragment, developed suppurative V. vulnificus keratitis, and was successfully treated with combined cefazolin and gentamicin. Including our patient, 17 cases of eye infections with Vibrio spp. have been reported, and 11 (65%) involved exposure to seawater or shellfish. Of the seven cases due to V. vulnificus (six keratitis and one endophthalmitis), six had known exposure to shellfish or seawater along the U.S. coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Of five cases of V. alginolyticus conjunctivitis, three had been exposed to fish or shellfish. Three infections with V. parahaemolyticus (one keratitis and two endophthalmitis) were reported; two of these occurred in people exposed to brackish water on or near the Gulf Coast. Two cases of postsurgical endophthalmitis, one with V. albensis and one with V. fluvialis, also were reported.

Conclusions: In addition to septicemia, gastroenteritis, and wound infections, halophilic noncholera Vibrio species can cause sight-threatening ocular infections. Ocular trauma by shellfish from contaminated water is the most common risk factor for Vibrio conjunctivitis and keratitis. Nearly one half of reported Vibrio infections of the eye occurred along the U.S. coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cefazolin / therapeutic use
  • Cornea / microbiology
  • Corneal Injuries
  • Corneal Ulcer / drug therapy
  • Corneal Ulcer / epidemiology*
  • Corneal Ulcer / microbiology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / drug therapy
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / epidemiology*
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / etiology
  • Eye Injuries / drug therapy
  • Eye Injuries / epidemiology
  • Eye Injuries / microbiology
  • Gentamicins / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Southeastern United States
  • Vibrio / isolation & purification*
  • Vibrio Infections / drug therapy
  • Vibrio Infections / epidemiology*
  • Vibrio Infections / etiology
  • Visual Acuity


  • Gentamicins
  • Cefazolin