Sushi lovers, beware! Undercooked tilapia leaves California mom limbless

Vibrio vulnificus, a potentially lethal bacterium found in raw seafood was the source of California mom's infection

By Web Desk
September 18, 2023
Barajas had all four limbs removed in a life-saving surgery this week. — Twitter kron

Laura Barajas, a California mom went through a life-saving surgery after all four of her limbs were amputated as a consequence of eating tilapia contaminated with deadly likely drug-resistant bacteria.

“It’s just been really heavy on all of us. It’s terrible. This could’ve happened to any of us,” Barajas’ friend Anna Messina told KRON.

Messina said that Barajas, a mother of a 6-year-old boy, fell ill days after ingesting the fish she had bought at a nearby San Jose market and prepared for herself at home.

“She almost lost her life. She was on a respirator,” Messina said.

“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,” she added.

Vibrio vulnificus, a potentially lethal bacterium found in raw seafood and seawater, was the source of Barajas' infection, according to Messina.

“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,” UCSF infectious disease expert Dr Natasha Spottiswoode told KRON.

It's a particularly dangerous virus, she warned, for people who have weakened immune systems.

The CDC estimates that between 150 and 200 cases of Vibro vulnificus are recorded annually. One in five afflicted individuals pass away.

The family of Barajas is eager to learn more about what transpired and what to do next.

To help with the Barajas' medical expenses and her transition to her new life, Messina started a GoFundMe account. By Sunday morning, more than $39,000 had been raised.

“Little did she know that this simple act would change her life forever,” the fundraiser said. “Laura has been in the hospital for over a month, fighting for her life, she is now a quadruple amputee.”