Hong Kong health officials report a case of necrotizing fasciitis caused by Vibrio vulnificus in a 77-year-old man with underlying medical conditions.

Vibrio vulnificus/CDC
Vibrio vulnificus/CDC

According to reports, he presented with left hand swelling and fever since April 4 and was admitted to a public hospital on the same day.

Incision and drainage of hypothenar abscess was performed on April 5 and his left hand tissue specimen collected during the operation yielded Vibrio vulnificus. The operative diagnosis was necrotizing fasciitis.

He was treated with antibiotics and his condition was stable.

He had been to wet market and got injured by fish bone during food preparation on April 3.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. It normally lives in warm seawater and is part of a group of vibrios that arecalled “halophilic” because they require salt.

V. vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that isexposed to seawater. Among healthy people, ingestion of V. vulnificus can cause vomiting,diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In immunocompromised persons, particularly those with chronic liver disease,V. vulnificuscan infect the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness characterized by fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin lesions. V. vulnificus bloodstreaminfections are fatal about 50% of the time.

V. vulnificus can cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater; theseinfections may lead to skin breakdown and ulceration. Persons who are immunocompromised are at higher risk for invasion of the organism into the bloodstream and potentially fatal complications.