© 2019 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Vibrio vulnificus is a siderophilic pathogen spreading due to global warming. The zoonotic strains constitute a clonal-complex related to fish farms that are distributed worldwide. In this study, we applied a transcriptomic and single gene approach and discover that the zoonotic strains bypassed the iron requirement of the species thanks to the acquisition of two iron-regulated outer membrane proteins (IROMPs) involved in resistance to fish innate immunity. Both proteins have been acquired by horizontal gene transfer and are contributing to the successful spreading of this clonal-complex. We have also discovered that the zoonotic strains express a virulent phenotype in the blood of its main susceptible hosts (iron-overloaded humans and healthy eels) by combining a host-specific protective envelope with the common expression of two toxins (VvhA and RtxA1), one of which (RtxA1) is directly involved in sepsis. Finally, we found that both IROMPs are also present in other fish pathogenic species and have recently been transmitted to the phylogenetic lineage involved in human primary sepsis after raw seafood ingestion. Together our results highlight the potential hazard that the aquaculture industry poses to public health, which is of particular relevance in the context of a warming world.