According to the Uruguay Ministry of Public Health (MSP), Vibrio vulnificus infections are “extremely rare” with less than 10 cases reported annually. However, since the beginning of the year, four serious cases have been reported, including three deaths prompting MSP to issue an alert, according to a LaRed 21 report (computer translated).

Image/CIA
Image/CIA

All the patients has an underlying medical condition. It is not noted how the bacterium was contracted.

According to officials, the cases were reported from Montevideo, Canelones and Maldonado.

Vibrio vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that is exposed to warm seawater containing the bacteria. Ingestion of Vibrio vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Vibrio vulnificus can also cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater; these infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulcers.

Healthy individuals typically develop a mild disease; however, Vibrio vulnificus infections can be a serious concern for people who have weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease.

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The bacterium can invade the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness with symptoms like fever, chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock) and blistering skin lesions. Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal about 50 percent of the time. A recent study showed that people with these pre-existing medical conditions were 80 times more likely to develop Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections than healthy people.

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