Woman Loses Limbs After Eating Fish Contaminated By Killer Bacteria

plate of raw oysters

Raw seafood contamination. Credit: Image by fabrikasimf on Freepik

Laura Barajas, a mother aged 40 from San Jose, California has had to have all four limbs amputated in a bid to save her life after becoming infected by bacteria in undercooked tilapia fish.

A friend of Barajas, Anna Messina, spoke to American network Kron 4 about the shock ordeal. It is understood that back in July, Barajas bought fresh tilapia fish from a local market which she cooked and ate herself at home. 

Barajas began to feel unwell a short while later and, within a few days, was taken into hospital where a two month battle to save her life began which culminated in the amputation of all her limbs in order to stop the flesh-eating bacteria killing her.

Messina told Kron 4, “She almost lost her life. She was on a respirator.” She went on to say,  “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.”

US Government Warning About Killer Bacteria

Bacteria growing on a petri dish
Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria. Credit: Image by wirestock on Freepik

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US issued a warning in early September about the bacteria called Vibrio Vulnificus which has already been blamed for four deaths in the US this summer. 

Two people in Connecticut died after becoming infected following a swim in Long Island Sound and two further people, one in New York and one in Texas, died after eating raw oysters that were contaminated. 

The CDC receives around 150 to 200 reports of infections by the Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria each year and around one in five people die from the infection. 

The bacteria grows in warmer coastal waters and can appear in brackish water after tsunamis, hurricanes and storms push seawater inland. Warming sea temperatures mean there are more opportunities for the bacteria to breed.

Transmission And Symptoms

Infections usually happen after an open wound (including cuts, scrapes, new tattoos or piercings), becomes exposed to infected salt water, however roughly 10 per cent of infections happen after eating raw or undercooked fish or seafood that is contaminated with the bacteria.

Infectious Disease Expert, Dr Natasha Spottiswoode, told Kron 4, “The ways you can get infected with this bacteria are one; you can eat something that’s contaminated with it [and] the other way is by having a cut or tattoo exposed to water in which this bug lives.”

Symptoms to watch out for after consumption of raw or undercooked seafood, include diarrhoea with stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting and fever or chills. If a wound has become infected then symptoms can include pain, swelling, redness, wound discolouration, and discharge.

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Written by

Emma Mitchell

Emma landed in journalism after nearly 30 years as an executive in the Internet industry. She lives in Bédar and her interests include raising one eyebrow, reckless thinking and talking to people randomly. If you have a great human interest story you can contact her on mitch@euroweeklynews.com