San Jose Mother Suffers Devastating Loss of Limbs Due to Bacterial Infection Linked to Undercooked Fish

SAN JOSE, Calif. – A harrowing incident has left a San Jose mother in a life-altering condition, with her arms and legs amputated following a severe bacterial infection believed to have been contracted from improperly cooked fish.

Laura Barajas, 40, faced a grim health crisis after consuming tilapia purchased from a local market in July. Her health deteriorated rapidly, and medical experts diagnosed her with Vibrio vulnificus, a highly virulent bacterium often ominously referred to as the "flesh-eating bacteria." This alarming development was conveyed through a GoFundMe campaign initiated by her friend, Anna Messina.

Barajas's body proved incapable of defending itself against the relentless infection.

Messina shared the frightening details, stating, "She almost lost her life. She was on a respirator. 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."

Over the course of a month-long hospitalization, Barajas, a mother of a 6-year-old son, faced the agonizing decision of having all four of her limbs surgically removed to preserve her life, as disclosed in the GoFundMe account.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Vibrio vulnificus is commonly recognized as a "flesh-eating bacteria" due to its potential to cause necrotizing fasciitis—a severe infection that leads to the death of tissue surrounding an open wound.

The CDC underscores the critical nature of early and aggressive surgical intervention to remove necrotic tissue in cases of necrotizing fasciitis. In Barajas's tragic situation, this necessitated the amputation of all her limbs.

Typically, human infection with Vibrio bacteria arises from the consumption of raw or undercooked seafood. Nevertheless, the CDC cautions that any open wound, ranging from a simple cut to a recent piercing or tattoo, coming into contact with the bacteria can result in an infection.

The CDC sounded an emergency alert at the end of August, urging healthcare providers to consider Vibrio as a potential source of infections, particularly as warming sea waters promote the proliferation of the bacteria.

The CDC grimly notes, "One in five people with this infection die—sometimes within 1–2 days of becoming ill."

Tragically, several recent fatalities have underscored the severity of Vibrio vulnificus infections, with two individuals in Connecticut, one in New York, and a Texan succumbing to the bacterium, including one case linked to the consumption of raw oysters.

This deeply distressing situation has left those close to Barajas profoundly affected. Anna Messina reflects, "It's just been really heavy on all of us. It's terrible. This could've happened to any of us. Be thankful for what we have right now because it can be taken away so quickly, so easily."