(RepublicanJournal.org) – A 40-year-old mother lost both her arms and legs after contracting an infection that nearly took her life. The woman reportedly ate tilapia, a type of fish that has a reputation for containing high levels of dangerous bacteria, the night before she fell ill.
Laura Barajas had no idea the meal she cooked for herself, which contained store-bought tilapia, would leave her in the hospital, fighting for her life on a respirator. According to a fundraiser her boyfriend’s coworker Anna Messina organized, the victim fell extremely ill the day after she consumed the fish.
Barajas went to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with Vibrio vulnificus, also known as a flesh-eating bacteria due to its necrotic effects. The infection progressed despite her in-patient care, leading to kidney failure and sepsis, which began to eat away at her extremities. Messina told San Francisco’s KRON4 that Barajas’ fingers, feet, and bottom lip were black when doctors finally made the decision to amputate. On September 13, 2023, the patient lost all four of her limbs due to the bacteria.
V. vulnificus is a serious infection, according to the CDC, which states that roughly one in five people who contract it die. Most infections occur as a result of eating undercooked or raw fish or oysters, but it can also enter the body through cuts in the skin. It’s one of several bacteria capable of causing necrotizing fasciitis, a condition that causes infected tissue to rot. People with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk of severe infection.
Global Seafoods warns that tilapia and other bottom feeders are notorious for consuming large amounts of contaminants in their environments. Even worse, tilapia are often farm raised in crowded, dirty conditions that leave them primed for infections. They’re also typically fed heavy doses of antibiotics to keep these infections in check, and consumers can be at risk of developing antibiotic-resistant diseases as a result.
To add icing on the cake, this type of fish often contains pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause people with arthritis and similar conditions to flare. Many experts recommend skipping this cheap protein source altogether, opting instead for omega-3-rich salmon and other healthier cuts.
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