The role of Gulf Coast oysters harvested in warmer months in Vibrio vulnificus infections in the United States, 1988-1996. Vibrio Working Group

J Infect Dis. 1998 Sep;178(3):752-9. doi: 10.1086/515367.


Vibrio vulnificus infections are highly lethal and associated with consumption of raw shellfish and exposure of wounds to seawater. V. vulnificus infections were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 23 states. For primary septicemia infections, oyster trace-backs were performed and water temperature data obtained at harvesting sites. Between 1988 and 1996, 422 infections were reported; 45% were wound infections, 43% primary septicemia, 5% gastroenteritis, and 7% from undetermined exposure. Eighty-six percent of patients were male, and 96% with primary septicemia consumed raw oysters. Sixty-one percent with primary septicemia died; underlying liver disease was associated with fatal outcome. All trace-backs with complete information implicated oysters harvested in the Gulf of Mexico; 89% were harvested in water >22 degrees C, the mean annual temperature at the harvesting sites (P < .0001). Control measures should focus on the increased risk from oysters harvested from the Gulf of Mexico during warm months as well as education about host susceptibility factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ostreidae / microbiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Seawater / microbiology
  • Shellfish / microbiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vibrio Infections / epidemiology
  • Vibrio Infections / etiology*
  • Vibrio*
  • Weather