A San Jose, California, mother has had all four of her limbs amputated after contracting a bacterial infection from tilapia she bought at a local market, according to a friend.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about the bacteria in question — Vibrio vulnificus — earlier this month.
Laura Barajas, 40, bought the fish in late July, cooked it the following day and quickly became ill, friend Anna Messina said in a GoFundMe campaign for the family.
“It’s just been really heavy on all of us. It’s terrible,” Messina told the outlet. “This could’ve happened to any of us.”
After eating the fish, Barajas, who has a 6-year-old son, fell ill and went into sepsis, which was followed by kidney failure, her friend said.
She was put on a respirator and then into a medically induced coma.
“She almost lost her life,” Messina said. “Her fingers were black, her feet were black her bottom lip was black.”
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Barajas’ health took a turn for the worse as she continued to fight the infection — resulting in a devastating medical decision last week.
“On September 13, 2023 all four of Laura’s limbs had to be removed in order to save her life,” Messina wrote in a GoFundMe update.
The CDC issued a warning about Vibrio vulnificus on Sept. 1 after the agency said an uptick in cases had been reported.
The agency said between 150 and 200 people contract the infection annually, and “about one in five people with this infection die — sometimes within 1–2 days of becoming ill.”
“Most people get infected with Vibrio by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters,” the CDC said.
“Some people get infected when an open wound is exposed to salt water or brackish water containing Vibrio,” it said.
“People can also get infected if an open wound comes in contact with raw or undercooked seafood. Open wounds include those from a recent surgery, piercing, tattoo, and other cuts or scrapes –including those acquired during aquatic activity.”
The CDC said simple measures to avoid contracting an infection include cooking oysters and other shellfish before eating them as well as hand-washing after handling raw shellfish.
The GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $60,000 toward its goal of $150,000 for Barajas’ medical expenses Monday afternoon.
“This family is in desperate need of our help,” Messina said of her friend’s financial situation.
“The mounting hospital bills are overwhelming, and Laura’s physical condition will necessitate significant changes to their lives as they adapt to her new circumstances,” she said.
In a GoFundMe update Monday, Messina said Barajas “is healing well and looking forward to moving out of the ICU into another room at the hospital.”