California Mother Loses All Four Limbs After Eating Contaminated Fish

Laura Barajas
Getty Images/Ekaterina Toropova, GoFundMe

A 40-year-old mother in San Jose, California, lost all her limbs in surgery Thursday after eating tilapia she did not know was contaminated, her friends have explained.

The victim, identified as Laura Barajas, went forward with the amputation surgery after one month of being cared for in a hospital, the New York Post reported Saturday.

An image shows the mother before her illness and when she was in the hospital:

Friend Anna Messina said the woman, who has a young son, fell ill in the days after she ate the fish she bought at a local market and cooked in her own kitchen for herself.

“It’s just been really heavy on all of us. It’s terrible. This could’ve happened to any of us,” Messina stated.

She said her friend was eventually put into a medically induced coma and her fingers, feet, and bottom lip turned black. In addition, she suffered from sepsis and the beginning stages of kidney failure.

Barajas was apparently suffering from the bacteria known as Vibrio vulnificus.

WATCH: Bernard Camins, MD, Discusses Harmful Bacteria Vibrio Vulnificus:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people can contract a Vibrio infection from consuming raw or undercooked seafood and through an open wound.

“One species, Vibrio vulnificus, can cause life-threatening wound infections. Many people with Vibrio vulnificus infection require intensive care or limb amputations, and about 1 in 5 people with this infection die, sometimes within a day or two of becoming ill,” the agency said.

Foods commonly linked to Vibrio are oysters, other shellfish, and fish, the CDC noted.

“Although Vibrio infections from fish aren’t as common as infections from shellfish, they do happen from time to time. Other harmful germs can be found in fish, too. To help prevent infection, cook fish to 145°F or until its flesh is opaque,” the agency urged.

As of early Sunday, a GoFundMe page created to help Barajas’ family has raised $41,408 of its $150,000 goal.

“We kindly request that you find it in your hearts to support this beautiful family during this incredibly challenging time. What has happened to them could happen to any of us, and together, we can make a meaningful difference,” the page read.

“Your generosity will help alleviate the financial burden they face and allow them to focus on Laura’s recovery and adjusting to their new reality,” it stated.


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