Lawyers for Your Vibriosis Lawsuit against a Restaurant
Attorneys Fred Pritzker, Brendan Flaherty and Ryan Osterholm are lead lawyers for our Vibrio food poisoning litigation team. You can click here now to contact our law firm and request a free consultation. Find out if you have a personal injury or wrongful death claim against a restaurant and can file a lawsuit for compensation. Our lawyers are some of the few in the U.S. who have won these cases.
What is Vibrio Food Poisoning?
Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio cholerae (cholera) are bacteria that occur naturally in warm coastal areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico. These bacteria are found in higher concentrations in the summer months when water gets warmer.
Vibrio causes food poisoning when people eat seafood (primarily raw oysters) contaminated with this bacterium, generally either V. vulnificus or V. parahaemolyticus. The illness is sometimes called vibriosis. The states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi have the most Vibrio food poisoning cases.
In persons with liver disease, cancer, or another immune-compromising condition, V. vulnificus typically infects the bloodstream, causing a life-threatening illness called sepsis or septicemia. About half of V. vulnificus blood infections are fatal, and death can occur within two days. Attorney Fred Pritzker has represented families whose loved ones died in this way in wrongful death lawsuits against restaurants.
Symptoms of Infection
Among healthy people, ingestion of V. vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In immunocompromised persons, particularly those with chronic liver disease, V. vulnificus can infect the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness characterized by fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin lesions. V. vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal about 50% of the time.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus causes watery diarrhea often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion. Illness is usually self-limited and lasts 3 days. Severe disease is rare and occurs more commonly in persons with weakened immune systems.
Vibrio cholera is extremely rare in the United States. It is an acute, diarrheal illness that can be severe. Approximately one in 10 (5-10%) people who contract this infection will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.
People at Risk
Certain health conditions put people at high risk for serious illness or death from Vibrio infections from raw oysters. These conditions include:
- Liver disease (from hepatitis, cirrhosis, alcoholism, or cancer) (200 times more likely to die)
- Iron overload disease (hemochromatosis)
- Cancer (including lymphomas, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease)
- Stomach disorders
- Any illness or medical treatment that weakens the body’s immune system, including HIV infection
Even if the person had one of the above conditions, it may be possible to sue a restaurant.
Oyster beds in Katama Bay in the community of Edgartown, Massachusetts, have been closed effective September 3, 2014. The closure happened after 4 people who had eaten raw oysters harvested in the area were diagnosed with Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
30cases of Vibrio food poisoning in Washington State have been associated with eating raw oysters from three commercial growing areas: Totten Inlet near Olympia, North Bay and Dabob Bay in north Hood Canal.
80,000 illnesses, 500 hospitalizations and 100 deaths are caused by Vibrio bacteria each year, according to the CDC. There are 2 ways to get a Vibrio infection: 1) eat seafood contaminated with Vibrio or 2) get seawater with Vibrio in an open wound. People with weakened immune systems or chronic liver disease are at highest risk of getting seriously ill.
In general, the only people who can sue for Vibrio are those who contracted it by eating contaminated seafood.
- 75% growth in number of Vibrio infections (Vibriosis) since 2008;
- People 65 and older most at risk for contracting a Vibrio infection that makes them sick enough to seek medical attention;
- CDC estimates millions of unreported cases of Vibriosis each year.