California: Woman has all limbs amputated after eating fish infected with 'flesh-eating' bacteria

Laura Barajas became ill after eating fish she had bought at a local market in San Jose, Calif., and prepared for herself at home.

A 40-year-old woman suffered the loss of all four limbs after being infected with the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, popularly known as "meat eater," from eating undercooked tilapia. Laura Barajas underwent amputation surgery after spending months in the hospital battling an infection.

Local media outlet KRON 4 explained that Barajas fell ill at the end of July after eating the fish she had bought at a local market in San Jose, Calif., and prepared for herself at home. "She almost lost her life. She was on a respirator. It’s just been really heavy on all of us. It’s terrible. This could’ve happened to any of us,", Anna Messina, a friend of Barajas, said in a statement collected by KRON 4.

Vibrio vulnificus has caused at least 14 deaths in the United States. The last one was recorded last week in Galveston, Texas, according to local health authorities. The Department of Health detailed that it was a man between 30 and 40 years of age who had underlying health conditions that predisposed him to the infection after eating raw oysters.

"Individuals that are immune suppressed, have liver disease, and or diabetes should refrain from consuming raw shellfish and recreating in coastal waters," the Galveston Health Authority explained.

In addition, officials explained that due to this year's unusually warm ocean temperatures, the number of Vibrio vulnificus infections in the United States is increasing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the bacteria can be contracted by eating oysters and fish or shellfish that are raw or undercooked, as well as via open wounds contacting these foods or hot salt water or brackish water that is contaminated by the bacteria.