Laura Barajas: California Mom Loses All Four Limbs after Getting Infected by Vibrio from Eating Undercooked Tilapia

This bacterium is particularly alarming for people with compromised immune systems, as highlighted by Spottiswoode.

A mother in California has suffered the devastating loss of all four of her limbs due to a deadly bacterial infection she contracted from eating undercooked Tilapia fish, her friends have said. Laura Barajas, 40, underwent life-saving amputation surgery on Thursday following an extended stay in the hospital spanning several months.

Barajas, a mother to a six-year-old boy, fell ill in late July just days after eating the fish she had bought from a local market in San Jose and prepared at home, a friend told News 19. "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.

Near-Fatal Bacterial Infection

Laura Barajas
Laura Barajas GoFundMe

"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.

Messina said that Barajas contracted Vibrio vulnificus, a potentially deadly bacteria present in raw seafood and seawater.

Laura Barajas
Laura Barajas had all her four limbs amputated after contracting the bacterial infection X

"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.

About 150-200 cases of these infections are reported annually, with the CDC stating that approximately one in five individuals affected by this infection do not survive.

This bacterium is particularly alarming for people with compromised immune systems, as highlighted by Spottiswoode.

"People should take sensible precautions like if you have a cut avoid getting immersed in water until it's well healed," Spottiswoode said.

Tilapia (Representational image) X

"If you are someone immunocompromised keeping an eye on these things and avoiding those high-risk activities and foods."

"Be thankful for what we have right now because it can be taken away so quickly so easily," Messina added.

Extremely Unfortunate Incident

Messina has started a GoFundMe page to assist her friend in covering the extensive medical expenses and ongoing care requirements.

Laura Barajas
Laura Barajas with her partner Jose Valdez X

"This family is in desperate need of our help. While Jose has health benefits through his work, it remains uncertain whether they will cover Laura, his partner of eight years' Messina wrote on the page, which has raised more than $26,000 so far.

"Jose's paid time off (PTO) has been exhausted, and the Family Disability program provides only 60% of his normal income.

"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," she added.