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Background

Bacterial skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) in travelers often follow insect bites and can present a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations ranging from impetigo to necrotizing cellulitis. Significant SSTIs can also follow marine injuries and exposures in travelers, and the etiologies are often marine bacteria.

Methods

To meet the objectives of describing the pathogen-specific presenting clinical manifestations, diagnostic and treatment strategies, and outcomes of superficial and deep invasive infections in travelers caused by commonly encountered and newly emerging marine bacterial pathogens, Internet search engines were queried with the key words as MESH terms.

Results

Travel medicine practitioners should maintain a high index of suspicion regarding potentially catastrophic, invasive bacterial infections, especially Aeromonas hydrophila, Vibrio vulnificus, Chromobacterium violaceum, and Shewanella infections, following marine injuries and exposures.

Conclusions

Travelers with well-known risk factors for the increasing severity of marine infections, including those with open wounds, suppressed immune systems, liver disease, alcoholism, hemochromatosis, hematological disease, diabetes, chronic renal disease, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and cancer, should be cautioned about the risks of marine infections through exposures to marine animals, seawater, the preparation of live or freshly killed seafood, and the accidental ingestion of seawater or consumption of raw or undercooked seafood, especially shellfish. With the exception of minor marine wounds demonstrating localized cellulitis or spreading erysipeloid-type reactions, most other marine infections and all Gram-negative and mycobacterial marine infections will require therapy with antibiotic combinations.