Hemochromatosis and Vibrio vulnificus Wound Infections

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There are several reports of persons with hemochromatosis and Vibrio vulnificus primary septicemia, but few accounts of persons with hemochromatosis and V. vulnificus wound infection. A 58-year-old white man developed infection of a forearm injury exposed to seawater in the Gulf of Mexico near the Alabama coast. At age 66, he was diagnosed to have hemochromatosis. Transferrin saturation was 89% and serum ferritin was 4761 pmol/L. HFE genotype was C282Y/C282Y. Serum levels of hepatic enzymes, glucose, IgG, IgA, and IgM, and blood levels of T, B, and natural killer cells were normal. We identified previous reports of only 2 similar cases: a woman from Alabama and a man from northern Australia. Mean age of the 3 subjects was 51 years at diagnosis of infection. Each had elevated serum iron measures or iron overload complications; both men were diagnosed to have hemochromatosis after they developed infection. Each of the 3 had recent exposure of a wound on an extremity to seawater, rapid development of a necrotizing soft tissue infection that required debridement and skin grafting, and positive wound or blood cultures. Each subject survived the infection. V. vulnificus wound infection occurs in some persons with hemochromatosis, but the risk of infection may be small. All patients with V. vulnificus infections should be evaluated for hemochromatosis, iron overload, and liver disorders.

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