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Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 May;100(5):1195-9.

Chronic liver disease and consumption of raw oysters: a potentially lethal combination--a review of Vibrio vulnificus septicemia.

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Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA.


Vibrio vulnificus septicemia is the most common cause of fatality related to seafood consumption in the United States. It occurs predominantly in patients with chronic liver disease following consumption of raw oysters. V. vulnificus is a highly virulent human pathogen, normally found in warm estuarine and marine environment. It lodges in filter feeders like oysters. The onset of this illness is abrupt, rapidly progressing to septic shock with a high mortality. Clinicians managing patients with chronic liver disease need to educate their patients of the risk associated with the consumption of raw seafood, especially oysters. A high index of suspicion is necessary for appropriate treatments, as doxycycline, the antibiotic of choice, is not usually a part of the empiric therapy for septicemia. The high mortality associated with this septicemia demands aggressive preventive measures: susceptible individuals must be forewarned by signs displayed in restaurants; physicians must educate patients with chronic liver disease about the risk of raw oyster consumption; and harvesting methods which reduce contamination by V. vulnificus must be utilized.

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