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

Lindsay McCane

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.

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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.

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"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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"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]