A comprehensive review of Vibrio vulnificus: an important cause of severe sepsis and skin and soft-tissue infection

Int J Infect Dis. 2011 Mar;15(3):e157-66. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2010.11.003. Epub 2010 Dec 21.


Vibrio vulnificus is a halophilic Gram-negative bacillus found worldwide in warm coastal waters. The pathogen has the ability to cause primary sepsis in certain high-risk populations, including patients with chronic liver disease, immunodeficiency, iron storage disorders, end-stage renal disease, and diabetes mellitus. Most reported cases of primary sepsis in the USA are associated with the ingestion of raw or undercooked oysters harvested from the Gulf Coast. The mortality rate for patients with severe sepsis is high, exceeding 50% in most reported series. Other clinical presentations include wound infection and gastroenteritis. Mild to moderate wound infection and gastroenteritis may occur in patients without obvious risk factors. Severe wound infection is often characterized by necrotizing skin and soft-tissue infection, including fasciitis and gangrene. V. vulnificus possesses several virulence factors, including the ability to evade destruction by stomach acid, capsular polysaccharide, lipopolysaccharide, cytotoxins, pili, and flagellum. The preferred antimicrobial therapy is doxycycline in combination with ceftazidime and surgery for necrotizing soft-tissue infection.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteremia / diagnosis
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Bacteremia / microbiology*
  • Ceftazidime / therapeutic use
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / drug therapy
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / microbiology*
  • Soft Tissue Infections / diagnosis
  • Soft Tissue Infections / drug therapy
  • Soft Tissue Infections / microbiology*
  • Vibrio Infections / diagnosis
  • Vibrio Infections / drug therapy
  • Vibrio Infections / microbiology*
  • Vibrio vulnificus / isolation & purification*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Ceftazidime
  • Doxycycline