Skip to Content

An Extended Stay Getaway

Not Your Average Stomach Bug


Ashlee E. Nelson
Masters of Public Health
UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Sarah R. Sletten
Department of Biomedical Sciences
UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences


This directed case study explores the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus and its impact on human health. The case is based on a true story of a woman who fell ill after eating raw oysters while visiting family in New Orleans during the month of August. Part I provides the setting for the case and describes the initial signs of Rebecca’s illness. Part II describes her signs and symptoms upon her arrival at the hospital and laboratory results. From this information, students should be able to determine a differential diagnosis for Rebecca. Part III reveals the cause of illness, discusses the biology and pathogenesis of the organism, and describes treatment. Part IV introduces students to the public health aspects of the disease. Part V discusses a connection to the larger ecological picture and concludes the case.  Developed for a one-semester, introduction to medical microbiology course for pre-nursing and allied health majors, the case would also be appropriate in a general microbiology or immunology course. It requires that students have some existing knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, and prokaryote structure, growth, and metabolism. 


  • Develop a differential diagnosis based on signs, symptoms, patient history, and lab results.
  • Explain the biology and pathogenesis of Vibrio vulnificus.
  • Interpret public health data related to vibriosis investigations and predict when and where outbreaks are most likely to occur.
  • Make connections between vibriosis incidence patterns to larger ecological consequences.


Pathology; bacteria; immunology; microbiology; vibriosis; medical; ecology; epidemiology; Vibrio vulnificus; foodborne pathogen; gastroenteritis

Topical Areas


Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division


PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Clicker, Directed, Discussion



Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Ecology  |   Environmental Science  |   Epidemiology  |   Medicine (General)  |   Microbiology  |   Public Health  |   Science (General)  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Supplemental Materials

This case study can also be delivered by using the (optional) PowerPoint presentation below together with student response systems (e.g., clickers).

  gi_illness.pptx (~1.9 MB)

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.