A doctor explains what happened to a woman who lost her arms and legs after eating tilapia/Dr Zain Hasan
A woman had to undergo surgery to amputate all four of her limbs after eating tilapia fish contaminated with deadly meat-eating bacteria, media in San County, California, reported. Laura Barajas, 40, underwent the life-saving surgery last Thursday after spending a month in the hospital. "It was really heavy on all of us. It's terrible. It could have happened to any of us," Barajas' friend Ana Messina told KRON.
Messina said Barajas, who has a 6-year-old son, fell ill just days after eating the fish she bought at a local market in San Jose and cooking for herself at home. "She almost lost her life. She was hooked up to a ventilator," Messina said. She spent a month in the hospital before all four of her limbs had to be removed to save her life. They put her in a coma. Her fingers were black, her legs were black, her lower lip was black. She had sepsis and her kidneys failed."
Messina said Barajas was infected with Vibrio vulnificus, a potentially deadly bacterium found in raw seafood and seawater. "The ways you can get this bacterium are: eat something that is contaminated with it or by a cut or tattoo exposed to the water where this bacterium lives," UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Natasha Spottiswoode said, adding that it is a particularly worrying infection for those with weakened immune systems.
Laura Barajas ate tilapia fish and had to amputate all her limbs/Screenshot, KRON 4
About 150 to 200 cases of Vibrio vulnificus are reported each year, according to the CDC. About one in five of those infected died. Vibrio vulnificus is commonly referred to as a "meat-eating bacterium" or carnivorous bacterium because it can cause necrotizing inflammation, according to the CDC, which is "a severe infection in which the flesh around an open wound dies." The primary treatment is "an early, aggressive surgical procedure and breakdown of necrotic tissue," according to the CDC. In the case of Barajas, this meant the amputation of all her organs.
The CDC issued a warning in late August urging health care providers to consider Vibrio vulnificus as a potential cause of infections because warming seawater encourages bacterial growth. "One in five people with this infection dies — sometimes within 1-2 days of getting sick," the CDC reported. At least three people — two in Connecticut and one in New York — have died after being exposed to Vibrio vulnificus this summer, and a man in Texas has died after contracting bacteria from eating raw oysters.
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Barajas' family is waiting for the patient's condition to improve to figure out how to move forward from here. Messina launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with Barajas' medical costs and adjustment to her new life. More than $100,000 has been raised to date.
"She didn't know that this simple act would change her life forever," she said, "Laura was in the hospital for more than a month, fighting for her life, now she is an amputee. Be grateful for what you have now because it's proof that it might one day go away."
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