California woman loses limbs after bacterial infection from undercooked fish: report

News & Politics

There has been a warning issued about a bacteria that may have made a woman in California sick. She is reportedly still recovering in the hospital almost two months after falling ill.

Laura Barajas, 40, started a GoFundMe campaign after the illness apparently became so severe that she had to have all four of her limbs amputated because of it. At the time of this report, her fundraising campaign has managed to raise $43,143 of its goal of $150,000.

The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a statement about vibrio vulnificus, which states that “[m]any people with Vibrio vulnificus infection require intensive care or limb amputations, and about 1 in 5 people with this infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill.”

Vibrio vulnificus is the infection Barajas is believed to have contracted, though this has not been confirmed.

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Barajas’ friend Anna Messina said that it is believed she may have contracted the infection after eating undercooked tilapia.

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

Messina recounted that Barajas had purchased tilapia in late July from a local market for dinner. She went home and cooked the fish, ate it, and within days fell ill. She was subsequently hospitalized, according to KTLA.

“She almost lost her life. She was on a respirator,” Messina said. “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.”

Now, more than 45 days later, Barajas is living without her arms and legs.

“The ways you can get infected with this bacteria are one-you can eat something that’s contaminated with it the other way is by having a cut or tattoo exposed to water in which this bug lives,” Dr. Natasha Spottiswoode, UCSF Infectious Disease Expert, said.

She went on to say that the bacteria is specifically dangerous to those who already have their immune system compromised in some way. The CDC states that there are about 150 to 200 people who contract the illness each year, with about 20% of those cases ending in death.

“People should take sensible precautions like if you have a cut avoid getting immersed in water until it’s well healed,” Spottiswoode said. “If you are someone immunocompromised keeping an eye on these things and avoiding those high-risk activities and foods.”

The report mentioned that Messina and Barajas’ family are still waiting to find out the details of what exactly happened.

“Be thankful for what we have right now because it can be taken away so quickly so easily,” Messina said.

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