Mother loses all four limbs after contracting bacterial infections from undercooked fish in California

A person infected with the bacteria usually experiences symptoms within 24 hours of coming in contact with it

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Published: Mon 18 Sep 2023, 10:32 AM

A woman from California, US, had to get her all four limbs amputated after she contracted a bacterial infection from undercooked tilapia fish.

Laura Barajas, 40, underwent surgery on Thursday after spending months in the hospital struggling with the infection, according to media reports.


Barajas, who has a six-year-old son, likely caught the infection after she ate an undercooked tilapia fish that she bought from a local market in San Jose in July. She cooked the fish herself before eating it. But, just after a few days, Barajas fell ill and had to be hospitalised, her friend Anna Messina, told a local media outlet.

“It’s just been really heavy on all of us. It is terrible. This could have happened to any of us,” Messina shared.


Messina added that Barajas’ health deteriorated and she had to be put into a medically induced coma. “She almost lost her life. She was on a respirator. They put her into a medically induced coma. Her fingers were black, her feet were black, her bottom lip was black. She had complete sepsis and her kidneys were failing,” Messina said.

Messina said that Barajas got infected with a bacteria called 'Vibrio vulnificus' that may have been present in the fish.

Messina, who started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for her friend’s treatment, shared that Barajas spent over a month in the hospital “fighting for her life, she is now a quadruple amputee”, according to an international media outlet.

About Vibrio vulnificus

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Vibrio vulnificus is a type of bacteria that can make its way inside the body if you eat uncooked or undercooked shellfish. It can also spread through open wounds.

The infected person usually experiences symptoms within 24 hours of coming in contact with the bacteria. These include fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, skin redness or rashes, fainting, and weakness, among others.

UCSF Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Natasha Spottiswoode urged people to take necessary precautions to avoid such deadly infections. “People should take sensible precautions, like if you have a cut, avoid getting immersed in water until it’s well healed. If you are someone immunocompromised, keep an eye on these things and avoiding those high-risk activities and foods,” Spottiswoode told a local television station.

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