Laura Barajas, a 40-year-old woman from California, has all four of her limbs after consuming undercooked tilapia fish that was contaminated with a deadly bacteria. She recently underwent life-saving surgery after a month-long stay in the hospital.
“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 was quoted as saying by KRON. “She almost lost her life. She was on a respirator.”
Messina revealed that Barajas became sick days after eating the fish that she had purchased at a local market in San Jose and prepared it at home. “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.
According to her friend, Barajas got infected with Vibrio vulnificus, a deadly bacteria found in raw seafood and seawater.
Dr Dilip Gude, senior consultant physician, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad said that Vibrio vulnificus is a bacteria that infects via consumption of uncooked/undercooked seafood, oysters, shellfish, etc. “It also spreads via open wounds that get in contact with brackish water. The incidence in the USA has been about 100 to 200 every year while it may be more in India,” he said.
He cited a 2017 study that found that 38.5 per cent of the 26 clam samples in India grew Vibrio vulnificus.
According to Dr Gude, those with pre-existing liver, kidney, and heart diseases and those with immunosuppressed states are more prone to get a life-threatening type of this disease. “It is capable of causing life-threatening sepsis and septic shock with about 50 per cent or more mortality if transmitted via bloodstream/wound infections.”
In food-borne infections like these, one can experience cramping diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. “In those with weak immunity, this can quickly escalate to a fall in blood pressure, fever, altered sensorium, blisters, sepsis, and shock,” he added.
The expert said that the only way to find out the presence of Vibrio vulnificus is from would, blood, and stool culture and look for it in culture sensitivity discs. “The only way to avoid getting infected by Vibrio vulnificus is by adequately cooking sea foods and washing hands after handling such foods. In case you are going into brackish waters, make sure there are no wounds or cuts or loss of integrity of the skin in the legs or hands. Wear full protective gloves,” Dr Gude suggested.
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First published on: 19-09-2023 at 09:10 IST