Purpose: To describe the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Vibrio vulnificus, a rare organism that surfaced following Huricane Katrina and caused serious problems for many victims.
Data sources: Selected scientific literature supplemented with case presentations of patients seen following Katrina.
Conclusions: After Hurricane Katrina and as a result of extensive flooding of below–sea-level New Orleans, toxic waters contaminated many areas of the city. As a result of this extensive flooding of toxic waters, people were exposed to V. vulnificus.
Implications for practice: Consider V. vulnificus in the differential diagnosis and culture all wounds for this organism in any patients exposed to contaminated seawater. Prompt initiation of antibiotic treatment, especially before the onset of septic shock, provides the best outcomes.