Hong Kong health officials reported  a sporadic case of necrotizing fasciitis due to Vibrio vulnificus infection affecting a 49-year-old male with underlying illnesses.

Hong Kong/CIA
Hong Kong/CIA

He presented with bilateral feet and ankles pain and malaise since June 5. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of a public hospital on June 6 and was admitted on the same day. The clinical diagnosis was necrotizing fasciitis.

Excisional debridement of left foot was performed. Specimens of blood and left foot fluid collected on June 6 grew Vibrio vulnificus. His current condition was stable.

Epidemiological investigation revealed that the patient did not have recent travel history. There was no history of wound or injury. He lived with his wife and mother-in-law who remained asymptomatic. Investigation is ongoing.

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.

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.