08.16.17

Vibrio vulnificus season

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle at 1:32 pm by George Smith

It’s that time of year when Vibrio vulnificus infections begin showing in the news with some regularity. V. vulnificus is the brackish water/salt water bacterium I worked on for my Ph.D. which outlined its production of a collagenolytic enzyme that might and did turn out to have something to do with the catastrophic but human illness it can cause.

From the current news wires — Vibrio vulnficus infections, mostly in Florida and along the Gulf Coast states.

Interestingly, also skin and intestinal infections caused by the presence of the bacteria in a live Tilapia fish tank at a Seattle market:

One man is in the hospital with a confirmed Vibrio vulnificus infection. He became ill July 17. His wife was also sickened, but is recovering at home. Another person, confirmed in November 2016 with an infection from Vibrio vulnificus, also ate fish from a grocery store live tank, according to the health department notice. The department described the illnesses as an outbreak.

In this case, the vibrio exists on the fish and in the tank, an experience I found to be easily possible in my research. The organism is relatively commonplace in estuarine waters and is found on the fauna. The mitigating factor is that most healthy people are not susceptible to V. vulnficus infection.

In addition, the bacterium is found in enriched presence as water temperature rises. A Tilapia tank in a market, not paid much attention to, might indeed be a good place for that.

An inection was also reported near Dunnsville in Virginia’s northern neck where a woman was thought to have acquired it while swimming in the Rappahannock river:

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that 61-year-old Jane Durvin took her grandchildren swimming on Sunday at the Rappahannock River, a day after her cat had scratched her finger.

Durvin says on Monday she was in the hospital with a swollen, throbbing hand. She says doctors diagnosed her with a vibrio infection. She says on Wednesday her middle finger turned “black and cold.” If antibiotics don’t work, Durvin’s finger may need to be amputated.

Those thought to be most vulnerable to infection are those with liver disease, a compromised immune system, or some other underlying cause associated with general infirmity.

The disease is rare, however, as noted in this newspaper piece from the Rappahannock area, dated 2000.


Vibrio vulnificus — from the archives.

Vibrio vulnficusmy doctoral work.

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