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California Mom Has To Have All Limbs Amputated After Eating Undercooked Tilapia

Laura Barajas underwent surgery to amputate her arms and legs after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria, likely from eating undercooked tilapia.

Laura Barajas
KRON 4 / YouTube

A northern California woman has lost all four limbs following a battle with a flesh-eating bacteria.

Doctors think the San Jose wife and mother, Laura Barajas, was most likely infected with the bacteria from eating undercooked tilapia purchased at a market by her house.

Scientists have been warning about the possibility of contracting the bacteria via other causes, like swimming in infected waters. The bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, aggressively attacks the body and quickly made Barajas ill after she ate the tilapia back in July.

San Jose woman loses limbs battling bacterial infection from

Barajas' friend Anna Messina, who has set up a GoFundMe for Barajas and her family, told local CW affiliate KRON 4 that the illness quickly became a horrifying battle.

“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.”

Doctors were forced to amputate both arms and both legs to save her life. Still, Barajas is luckier than many who fall victim to Vibrio vulnificus—one in five people infected die, often within just 1-2 days.

Eating contaminated seafood is the most common way humans are infected with Vibrio vulnificus, but scientists and doctors warn that people can also become sick if they have any kind of open wound on their skin that comes in contact with the bacteria.

That means of transmission is a growing concern as warming ocean waters are fostering widespread growth of the bacteria.

The CDC issued an alert just weeks ago urging healthcare professionals to be aware of the likelihood of waterborne transmission, particularly near the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, where water temperatures soared in some cases above 100 degrees over the summer.

Four people are known to have died from contracting Vibrio vulnificus this summer, two in Connecticut, one in New York, and a fourth man in Texas who contracted the bacteria from eating raw oysters.

On social media, people were very unnerved by Barajas' tragic story.

Barajas' friend Messina says she's learned a valuable lesson from this tragic situation. "Be thankful for what we have right now," she told KRON 4, "because it can be taken away so quickly, so easily.”