Laura Bajaras fell seriously ill after eating tilapia bought at a local market
A woman has had to fight for her life in intensive care after an ill-fated trip to her local market.
Laura Barajas, 40, had all four of her limbs amputated after buying fish that was contaminated with deadly bacteria, local media report.
Barajas, became seriously ill days after eating the tilapia that she’d cooked for herself at home in San Jose, California, her friend Anna Messina told Kron 4.
Messina said that Bajaras, who has a six-year-old son, was hospitalised after falling sick back in July and put 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,” the devastated friend revealed.
“She almost lost her life. She was on a respirator,” she added.
Messina told the news site that the cause of her terrifying health issues was Vibrio vulnificus — a species of bacteria found in raw or undercooked fish and seafood that can cause fatal infections and is known for "eating" flesh.
Bajaras was put on a ventilator and had her limbs amputated after months in hospitalKron 4
According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) you don’t even need to eat contaminated food to contract a life-threatening illness from the bacteria. You can also get it through an open wound just by touching the fish, its juices, or even sea or river water containing the bacteria.
Indeed, just having a cut on your hand, a tattoo on your arm or a piercing that’s exposed to water infested with the bug could land you in the hospital, or worse.
“About 150–200 Vibrio vulnificus infections are reported to CDC each year and about one in five people with this infection die—sometimes within 1–2 days of becoming ill,” the centre noted in a public health alert published at the start of September.
However, the wider Vibrio bacteria causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses each year in the US alone – though most sufferers experience milder symptoms than those related to the V. vulnificus strain.
A 3D rendering of Vibrio vulnificus bacteriaiStock
The bacteria live in costal waters including salt and brackish water which is a mixture of salt and fresh water.
They thrive in warmer waters, especially during the summer months, and resulting infections have been most commonly reported in the US by Gulf Coast states.
Massina said Barajas’s family is waiting to learn more about her case and what the future will look like for her.
“It’s just been really heavy on all of us. It’s terrible. This could’ve happened to any of us,” she told Kron 4.
“Be thankful for what we have right now because it can be taken away so quickly so easily,” she added.
Meanwhile, she has launched a fundraiser to help cover Bajaras’s medical costs and her adjustment to her new life.
As of Monday morning, more than $52,600 (around £42,485) had been raised on the GoFundMe site.