Vibrio food poisoning affects nearly 52,000 people per year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As opposed to most types of food poisoning, the majority of reports of "vibriosis" occur as individual cases instead of being part of an outbreak.
If you have bought or been served food that was infected with Vibrio, you may have the right to compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve endured through the filing of a Vibrio lawsuit.
What is Vibrio Bacteria?
Vibrio is a type of bacteria that live in certain coastal waters and are present in higher concentrations between May and October when temperatures are warmer. About a dozen Vibrio species can cause human illness, known as vibriosis.
The most common species causing Vibrio infections in the United States are:
- Vibrio parahaemolyticus,
- Vibrio vulnificus, and
- Vibrio alginolyticus.
Most people become infected by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters.
Certain Vibrio species can also cause a skin infection when open wounds are exposed to saltwater or brackish water. Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and saltwater. It is often found where rivers meet the sea.
People who are most likely to contract life-threatening illnesses from vibriosis include people with compromised immune systems, especially those with chronic liver disease or cancer.
Eating raw or undercooked seafood, particularly oysters, and exposing open wounds to saltwater or brackish water can also increase a person’s risk for severe and life-threatening vibriosis personal injury.
When ingested, Vibrio bacteria can cause the following signs and symptoms of food poisoning:
- Watery diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Skin lesions near an open wound
- Chronic liver disease
In most patients, these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion and last about 3 days. A severe and life-threatening illness is rare and typically occurs in people with a weakened immune system.
How is Vibrio Diagnosed?
A doctor may suspect vibriosis if a patient has watery diarrhea and has recently eaten raw or undercooked shellfish, especially raw oysters, or when a wound infection occurs after exposure to seawater. Infection is diagnosed when Vibrio bacteria are found in the stool, wound, or bloodstream of a patient who has symptoms of vibriosis.
Types of Vibrio Bacteria
1. Vibrio Vulnificus
One species of Vibrio, Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus) can cause life-threatening personal injury. Many people with V. vulnificus infection require intensive care or limb amputations, and about 1 in 5 people with V. vulnificus die, sometimes within a day or 2 of becoming ill.
Some V. vulnificus infections lead to necrotizing fasciitis, a severe infection in which the flesh around an open wound dies. Some media reports call V. vulnificus “flesh-eating bacteria,” even though necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by more than 1 type of bacteria.
2. Vibrio Alginolyticus
Vibrio alginolyticus, or V. alginolyticus, is a halophilic organism present in pufferfish, also called blowfish (fugu) or sea squab, that causes wound and ear infections. Clinical features include mild cellulitis and a seropurulent exudate.
V. alginolyticus is widely distributed in seawater and contaminated raw seafood (oysters) and is probably the most common Vibrio found in the UK. It occurs in large numbers throughout the year.
The onset of V. alginolyticus poisoning could be as soon as 10–45 min after consumption. Severe health symptoms occur including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, followed by dizziness, tingling of lips and extremities, paralysis, respiratory arrest, and death. Infections are invariably associated with exposure to seawater. Strains appear to be sensitive to ciprofloxacin.
3. Vibrio Parahaemolyticus
Vibrio parahaemolyticus, or V. parahaemolyticus, is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera. It lives in brackish saltwater, is passed via eating raw or undercooked shellfish or raw oysters, and causes gastrointestinal personal injury in humans. V. parahaemolyticus naturally inhabits coastal waters in the United States and Canada, and is present in higher concentrations during summer.
Symptoms of V. parahaemolyticus include:
- Watery diarrhea
- Abdominal cramping
- Fever and chills
These symptoms typically begin within 24 hours of exposure. Illness is usually self-limited and lasts approximately 3 days.
4. Vibrio Cholerae
Vibrio cholerae is a toxin-producing bacteria that causes the infectious and often fatal bacterial disease of the small intestine known as cholera, according to the CDC.
Cholera may cause severe medical symptoms including:
- Watery stool
- Rapid dehydration
- Hypovolemic shock
- Metabolic acidosis
The reported risk of fatality is up to half in vulnerable groups during outbreak events. Today, cholera thrives in countries with unsatisfactory hygienic conditions and in regions afflicted by natural disasters and/or humanitarian crises.
The development of oral rehydration therapy, antibiotic treatment, and new oral vaccines have led to increased survival and excellent prognosis (long-term outlook) with appropriate treatment.
See more: Cholera Poisoning Lawsuit
5. Vibrio Fischeri
Vibrio fischeri is a bioluminescent, Gram-negative marine bacterium that can be found free-living and in a mutualistic association with certain squids and fishes.
The family Vibrionaceae are natural inhabitants of seawater but can be found in freshwater. Vibrio fischeri is frequently found in symbiotic relationships with marine animals like the bobtail squid. Their bioluminescence stems from their expression of a series of proteins contained in the lux operon.
Because serious Vibrio personal injury is self-limited in most patients, no specific medical therapy is recommended. Patients who cannot tolerate oral fluid replacement may require intravenous fluid therapy. Early fasciotomy within 24 hours after the development of clinical symptoms can be life-saving in patients with Vibrio infections.
Early debridement of skin lesions plays an important role in successful therapy and is especially indicated to avoid chronic liver disease. Expeditious and serial surgical evaluation and intervention are required because patients may deteriorate rapidly, especially in patients with abdominal pain or a compromised immune system.
Reconstructive surgery, such as skin graft, is indicated in the recovery phase.
The major complications of Vibrio infections include sepsis, necrotizing fasciitis, myonecrosis, and gangrene (which frequently ends in amputation). Necrotizing fasciitis is a severe life-threatening infection of the soft tissues, involving subcutaneous fat, contiguous fascial sheets, and potentially underlying musculature (myonecrosis).
Necrotizing fasciitis is frequently blamed on ‘flesh-eating bacteria’ in the medical literature. Underlying diabetes, hepatic disease, malignancy, iv drug abuse, and immunosuppression are all risk factors for its development.
Get a Free Vibrio Infection Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Food Poisoning Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Vibrio Food Poisoning Lawsuits. Our attorneys are handling personal injury litigation nationwide and currently accepting new food poisoning cases throughout the United States.
If you or a loved one was a victim of a Vibrio infection, you should call a lawyer for a free consultation immediately. Victims may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and our law firm can help.