Vibrio vulnificus Septicemia After Handling Tilapia Species Fish: A Canadian Case Report and Review

Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol. 2006 Mar;17(2):129-32. doi: 10.1155/2006/164681.


Background: Vibrio vulnificus can cause a necrotizing soft tissue infection or primary septicemia; these infections are collectively known as vibriosis. This bacterium is commonly found within molluscan shellfish. Primary septicemia is often fatal, principally affecting persons with chronic liver disease.

Case presentation: A fatal case of V vulnificus sepsis that developed in a patient with chronic hepatitis B and chronic renal failure is reported. Diagnosis was made by isolation of the pathogen by blood culture. Upon further questioning, the patient's family recounted that the patient had handled and ingested Tilapia species fish in the hours preceding the patient's presentation. Despite treatment with doxycycline and cefotaxime, in conjunction with supportive care in the intensive care unit, the patient died on day 7 from multiple organ dysfunction.

Conclusion: The present case highlights the need to consider V vulnificus in the microbiological differential diagnosis when a person presents with sepsis and bullous cutaneous lesions. The importance of educating patients with liver disease (and certain other chronic diseases) about the need to be cautious when handling or consuming seafood is underscored.

Keywords: Bullae; Canada; Fish; Liver; Sepsis; Vibrio vulnificus.

Publication types

  • Case Reports