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September 25, 1996

Vibrio vulnificus Infections Associated With Eating Raw Oysters—Los Angeles, 1996

JAMA. 1996;276(12):937-938. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540120015008

OF ALL FOODBORNE infectious diseases, infection with Vibrio vulnificus is one of the most severe; the case-fatality rate for V. vulnificus septicemia exceeds 50%.1,2 In immunocompromised hosts, V. vulnificus infection can cause fever, nausea, myalgia, and abdominal cramps 24-48 hours after eating contaminated food; because the organism can cross the intestinal mucosa rapidly, sepsis and cutaneous bullae can occur within 36 hours of the initial onset of symptoms. Cases are most commonly reported during warm-weather months (April-November), and often are associated with eating raw oysters.

During April 1993-May 1996, a total of 16 cases of V. vulnificus infection were reported in Los Angeles County. Fifteen (94%) of these patients were primarily Spanish-speaking, 12 (75%) had preexisting liver disease (associated with alcohol use or viral hepatitis), all were septicemic, and all had eaten raw oysters 1-2 days before