Shigella Outbreak Shuts Down San Jose’s Mariscos San Juan Restaurant

A shigella outbreak has caused a California restaurant to temporarily shut its doors.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, reported via MSN, the Santa Clara County health officials had to shut down a very popular Mexican seafood restaurant located in downtown San Jose after more than 40 people became ill with the infectious bacteria shigella.

As defined by the Mayo Clinic, shigella infection, also known as shigellosis, is an intestinal disease that is caused by the bacteria shigella. The main symptom of the infection is severe diarrhea, which can oftentimes be bloody. There are several different ways in which shigella can be passed around. One way is through direct contact with the bacteria in the stool. The Mayo Clinic gives the example of a childcare worker not properly washing their hands after changing a dirty diaper. It can also be passed through contaminated food, or by drinking or swimming in contaminated water.

Generally, the symptoms of shigella infection occur one to two days after contamination. However, it can take up to a week for the symptoms to show themselves. Aside from the severe diarrhea, a person infected with the bacteria may also experience abdominal pains or cramping and may develop a fever. Children between the ages of two and four are the most likely to come down with the illness. Most of the time, the infection will clear up on its own, however doctors may prescribe antibiotics for a severe infection.

After nearly 50 people became ill with the infection, Mariscos San Juan at 205 N. 4th St. in downtown San Jose, California was closed. Allison Thrash, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, said 11 of the shigella victims have had to be treated in the intensive care units of several South Bay hospitals.

Health officials were first alerted to the possible outbreak when five people, all of which had eaten at Mariscos, arrived at the hospitals with diarrhea and a fever, some reaching 104 degrees. They then tested positive for the infection. The health officers then started an investigation into where the bacteria had originated.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” Thrash said. “We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.”

According to Food Safety News, doctors who are treating the shigella patients are being asked to take and test stool samples on each patient. They are also being told to order antimicrobial susceptibility testing and blood cultures if the person is being hospitalized. Clinicians have also been asked to “tailor therapy based on results of susceptibility testing, recognizing that routine antimicrobial susceptibility tests for shigella may not include some commonly available oral antibiotics.”

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Most of the patients had eaten at Mariscos on Friday or Saturday. Many of them had to be hospitalized. However, some patients toughed it out and did not seek medical attention.

“What we know is everyone who was ill has eaten at that restaurant location,” said county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “The restaurant is closed until we can be assured that there is no further risk to the public.”

Santa Clara County health officials are urging anyone who ate at the restaurant and then started experiencing symptoms to seek medical treatment immediately.

The downtown Mariscos San Juan is one of the restaurant chain’s three locations in San Jose. The Willow Street location had its permit suspended in August. Currently, the only remaining open Mariscos is the one located on Senter Road.

[Photo via Shutterstock]