Weakly virulent isolates of Vibrio vulnificus that were lethal only to simultaneously iron-overloaded and immunosuppressed mice were tested for ability to cause fluid accumulation in the permanently ligated rabbit ileal loop. Unlike the highly virulent isolates, which caused septicemia and death in rabbits, these isolates caused significant fluid accumulation in the rabbit loops. Fluid accumulation was also observed when culture filtrates were tested, indicating the existence of an enterotoxin. Enterotoxin activity did not correlate with the hemolysin or protease activities. Only one of three enterotoxigenic isolates caused diarrhea when administered to temporarily ligated rabbit ileal loops, suggesting involvement of some other pathogenic determinant(s) such as colonization.

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Author notes

1Present address: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Health Effects Research Laboratory, 26 West Martin Luther King Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45268.

2Present address: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Monitoring and Support Laboratory, 26 West Martin Luther King Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45268.