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Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted by eating contaminated food or by having a wound exposed to the bacteria in water. Vulnificus thrives in warm, still, salty water with a lot of organic material and is commonly found in organisms that filter water to feed, most notoriously oysters. It is the reason why, traditionally, oysters were not served in warmer months (those without an "R" in them, May - August).
Vulnificus is closely related to the organism that causes cholera and when ingested, presents similar symptoms.
Vulnificus is difficult to treat, and will often be resistant to the antibiotics that are most commonly used to treat it. If the symptoms do not progress too far, it will often resolve itself. However, if the disease progresses to the point where it causes shock or septicemia, it becomes very difficult to treat and is often fatal. Even if treated, the blisters caused by the disease will often be sites of secondary infections. The blisters can be disfiguring and may even require amputation of the affected limb.
Vulnificus is killed by cooking, but raw oysters are generally safe if harvested properly and in season. People with immunosuppression disease or taking immunosuppresants should avoid raw seafood altogether. In addition, people who have open wounds in the skin should avoid swimming where the bacteria may be present.