Californian Mom Eats Tilapia, Loses All Her Limbs To A Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Cooking food thoroughly is not just a culinary art; it is a critical practice that holds the power to safeguard our health and well-being.

Deadly bacteria, such as salmonella, E. coli, and listeria, lurk in raw or undercooked foods, poised to wreak havoc on our digestive systems and overall health.

But sometimes, the precautions one takes to cook food are simply not enough. Laura Barajas, a 40-year-old mom from San Jose, California, has now become a quadruple amputee after following a possible exposure to undercooked fish and a bacterial infection.

Mom of one suffers amputation of all four limbs after eating fish infected with deadly bacteria

Image credits: KRON 4

Last July, Barajas experienced a rapid onset of illness shortly after preparing and consuming tilapia, a type of freshwater fish, purchased from a local market in San Jose.

She had reportedly cooked the fish for herself at home.

Image credits: KRON 4

Anna Messina, a friend of Laura, told News 19: “It’s just been really heavy on all of us. It’s terrible.

“This could’ve happened to any of us.

“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.”

Laura was diagnosed with Vibrio vulnificus often referred to as the “flesh-eating bacteria”


Image credits: CDC/James Gathany

Laura, who is a mother to a six-year-old son, endured a month-long hospitalization, ultimately necessitating the amputation of all four of her limbs last week, as a life-saving measure.

Following her hospitalization, Laura received a diagnosis of Vibrio vulnificus, a highly aggressive bacterium often referred to as the “flesh-eating bacteria”.

The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a cautionary advisory regarding the bacterial illness earlier in August, urging healthcare providers to consider Vibrio as a potential cause of infections, as warming sea waters are encouraging the growth of the bacteria.

Laura ate tilapia, a type of freshwater fish, purchased from a local market in San Jose

Image credits: Etan Tal

According to the CDC, signs and symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection can include: watery diarrhea, often accompanied by stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever; bloodstream infection with fever, chills, dangerously low blood pressure, and blistering skin lesions; wound infection, which may spread to the rest of the body accompanied with fever, redness, pain, swelling, warmth, discoloration, and discharge in the form of leaking fluids.

University of California San Francisco infectious disease expert Dr. Natasha Spottiswoode told KRON: “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.”

The flesh-eating bacteria can contaminate food or infect a person through exposed wounds

The CDC reports approximately 150 to 200 cases of these infections annually, with a mortality rate of roughly one in five individuals affected.

Natasha explained that the bacteria was especially dangerous for people who were immunocompromised.

She explained: “People should take sensible precautions, like if you have a cut, avoid getting immersed in water until it’s well healed.

“If you are someone immunocompromised, keep an eye on these things and avoid those high-risk activities and foods.”

A doctor said the bacteria was especially dangerous for immunocompromised people
In the meantime, Laura’s friend, Anna, has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the hefty costs of medical care.

“This family is in desperate need of our help,” Anna wrote.

She disclosed that Jose Valdez, Laura’s boyfriend of eight years, did have health benefits through his work, but that it remained uncertain whether his benefits would cover Laura’s medical bills or not.

“Jose’s paid time off has been exhausted, and the Family Disability program provides only 60% of his normal income,” Anna said.

Laura’s friend has raised money to help cover the cost of her medical bills

Image credits:

She continued: “The mounting hospital bills are overwhelming, and Laura’s physical condition will necessitate significant changes to their lives as they adapt to her new circumstances.”

As of today (September 19), Anna has managed to raise $82,171 of her $150,000 target.

Yesterday (September 18), Anna wrote the following update: “Laura is healing well and looking forward to moving out of the ICU into another room at the hospital.”


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