A mother from Northern California has become a quadruple amputee after consuming undercooked fish from a local market, leading to a severe bacterial infection. Laura Barajas, 40, purchased fish from a San Jose market in July, cooked it, and consumed it, unaware of the potential dangers. Her friend, Anna Messina, revealed that Barajas fell ill, requiring hospitalization. She was later diagnosed with a vibrio vulnificus infection, a bacterial strain known to cause amputations and even death within a short span of time.
Barajas’ condition quickly deteriorated, and she was placed in a medically induced coma. Her fingers, feet, and bottom lip turned black due to sepsis caused by the infection, with her kidneys failing as well. After more than a month in the hospital, doctors were forced to amputate both of her arms and legs in an effort to save her life.
The incident has highlighted the potential dangers of undercooked seafood. Vibrio vulnificus, the bacteria responsible for the infection, can be acquired through the consumption of raw or undercooked seafood. It can also enter the body through wounds exposed to seawater. Symptoms typically manifest within 24 hours and can include fever, low blood pressure, and painful blisters. Vibrio vulnificus infections often require intensive care or limb amputations, with a mortality rate of about 20%.
To reduce the risk of vibrio vulnificus infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding the consumption of raw or undercooked shellfish. It is also crucial to wash hands thoroughly after handling raw seafood. Individuals with wounds should stay out of seawater and brackish water, covering their injuries with bandages if water exposure is inevitable. Any signs of a skin infection after contact with seawater or brackish water should be reported to a doctor.
This unfortunate incident serves as a reminder of the potential dangers associated with undercooked seafood and the importance of following proper food safety practices. It is crucial to cook seafood thoroughly to avoid bacterial infections that can have severe consequences.
CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention