93 People Reported Sick Due To Shigella Outbreak At California Restaurant, Lawsuits Filed

Reports state 93 people have been reported sick due to a shigella outbreak at a California restaurant.

As the Inquisitr previously reported, 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. Now, that number has climbed to nearly 100.

The shigella outbreak occurred at the Mariscos San Juan Restaurant on 4th Street in San Jose, California. Last Saturday, people started experiencing symptoms of diarrhea, fevers reaching 104 degrees, and abdominal pain after eating at the restaurant. Of the 93 people reported ill, the health department has confirmed that 24 have been diagnosed with shigella, according to ABC News. Many of those who reported experiencing symptoms had to be treated in the intensive care units of local hospitals.

Currently, no specific source on the contamination has been revealed. However, the health department is urging anyone who ate at the restaurant and started experiencing symptoms to seek medical attention immediately.

“This is serious business. It is a highly infectious agent,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “It usually takes very little [bacteria] to make people sick… That may account in part for the large number of [patients in] the outbreak.”

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 2 and 4 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.

The restaurant was closed on Sunday by the Santa Clara health department. They are currently investigating where the bacteria originated.

“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.”

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Due to the shigella outbreak, the Mariscos San Juan Restaurant is now facing lawsuits. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Greg Meissner, the dean of students at Independence High School in east San Jose, and Daniel Estrada had William D. Marler, a Seattle-based lawyer specializing in food-illness cases, file the lawsuit on their behalf on Wednesday. The lawsuit claims the restaurant’s owners, Sergio Becerra Cruz and Lourdes Garcia Becerra, were negligent, and they are seeking unspecified damages.

Meissner said he got takeout from the restaurant on Friday night. He later started experiencing severe stomach disorders, nausea, and dizziness, and eventually had a fever that reached 105 degrees.

“This can’t happen again to anyone,” Meissner said.

Estrada said he ate at the restaurant on Saturday, however, he didn’t fall ill until Monday. On Tuesday, he went to the hospital for treatment and was later released.

[Photo via Shutterstock]