How did a woman lose all limbs after eating contaminated fish in California? | World News - Hindustan Times
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How did a woman lose all limbs after eating contaminated fish in California?

Sep 18, 2023 04:12 PM IST

Laura Barajas, a 40-year-old resident of San Jose, California, fell seriously ill after eating undercooked tilapia, leading to a life-threatening condition.

A woman in the United States has lost all four of her limbs after suffering a severe bacterial infection from consuming contaminated fish. Laura Barajas, a 40-year-old resident of San Jose, California, fell seriously ill after eating undercooked tilapia, leading to a life-threatening condition.

Laura Barajas, a 40-year-old resident of San Jose, California, fell seriously ill after eating undercooked tilapia, leading to a life-threatening condition.(HT)
Laura Barajas, a 40-year-old resident of San Jose, California, fell seriously ill after eating undercooked tilapia, leading to a life-threatening condition.(HT)

According to reports by the New York Post, Barajas became infected with Vibrio vulnificus, a bacterial strain known for its potency. Her close friend, Anna Messina, told KRON, "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." "It's just been really heavy on all of us. It’s terrible. This could’ve happened to any of us," she added.

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The infection forced doctors to amputate all of Barajas' limbs in a bid to save her life. Following a month-long hospital stay, she now faces the challenge of rebuilding her life without her arms and legs.

What is Vibrio vulnificus?

Vibrio vulnificus is a rare but dangerous bacterium, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issuing warnings about its potential risks. The CDC reports that 150-200 cases of infections are reported annually, and approximately one in five people infected do not survive, succumbing to the illness within one to two days.

Also Read | CDC issues National Health Alert for infections caused by flesh-eating bacteria

Dr. Natasha Spottiswoode, an infectious disease expert from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), explained, "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." She emphasised that individuals with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable.

As Laura Barajas faces a long road to recovery, her friend Anna Messina has set up a GoFundMe campaign to assist with her medical expenses. The campaign has already garnered over $20,000 in support from well-wishers.

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