Woman’s limbs amputated in California; Fish-associated infections: a report
A Northern California mother who reportedly ate undercooked fish from a San Jose market is now a quadruple amputee after likely contracting a bacterial infection from food, her friend says.
Laura Barajas, 40, of San Jose, became ill after she bought fish from a local market in July, cooked it and ate it, her friend Ana Messina told Bay Area outlet KRON.
Barajas, who has a 6-year-old son, was hospitalized and diagnosed with Vibrio vulnificus infection, which the CDC says can require amputations and sometimes leads to death within a day or so, Messina said in an online fundraiser. Two days after becoming ill.
“She was on a ventilator,” Messina told KRON. “They put her in a medically induced coma. Her fingers were black, her feet were black, her lower lip was black. She had complete sepsis and her kidneys failed.
Messina told the outlet that the fish her friend consumed was tilapia.
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The mother is now a quadruple amputee
After being hospitalized for more than a month, doctors removed the woman’s arms and legs on September 13 “in order to save her life,” her friend wrote in an online fundraiser.
“It is in your hearts to support this beautiful family during this very difficult time,” Messina wrote on the fundraising page. “What happened to them could happen to any of us.”
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What is Vibrio vulnificus?
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacteria that can cause serious infections. It can come from undercooked seafood or by exposing a wound to seawater, according to the CDC. The infection can cause life-threatening wounds.
The majority of people infected with the disease require intensive care or amputation, the CDC reports, and about 1 in 5 people with it die, sometimes within a day or two of contracting the disease.
Sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria,” the symptoms often appear within 24 hours of eating raw or undercooked seafood, disease experts say.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms include fever, low blood pressure and painful blisters. The bacteria can lead to a severe form of oscillation, which can cause sepsis and shock, experts say, and those who may become ill should visit an emergency room immediately.
Tips to reduce the risk of oscillations
Reduce your risk of developing shingles by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended tips:
- Do not eat raw or undercooked oysters or other shellfish. Cook it before eating.
- Wash hands with soap and water after eating raw seafood.
- If you have a wound, stay away from seawater and brackish water. If water must be introduced, cover the wound with a bandage.
- If you have a wound that was exposed to either type of water, wash the wounds well.
- Tell your doctor if you have a skin infection after contact with seawater or brackish water.
Natalie Nessa Alund is a senior correspondent for USA TODAY. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @TALIEALUND.