Shigella: California Outbreak Grows

The shigella outbreak in California has now spread to three more counties in the Bay Area. The bacterial disease, which has been linked to a San Jose seafood restaurant, has caused at least five illnesses. The number of individuals who have exhibited shigella symptoms now exceeds 110, according to public health officials.

Shigella patients currently being treated for the bacterial disease are reportedly from Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Alameda counties in California. Santa Clara County public health officials report that 92 of the 110 known cases of the disease stem from their county. The 18 remaining patients live in the other Bay Area counties, where the number of California outbreak victims continues to grow.

Santa Clara County health officials says at least 110 cases of Shigella have been reported to the agency. Of the 110 cases, 92 were patients are Santa Clara County residents, and the remaining 18 patients live in other counties.

A total of 24 confirmed cases of shigellosis, a diarrheal disease caused by the shigella group of bacteria, exist in Santa Clara County, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The latest outbreak of the bacterial disease began over the past weekend when dozens of diners at Mariscos, a San Juan restaurant, reported feeling “severely ill” after their meal, Inside Bay Area reports. The restaurant is located at Number 3 in the 200 block of North 4th Street. Many of the shigella California outbreak patients who ate at the San Juan restaurant required hospitalization for several days. A total of 12 patients were reportedly admitted to the intensive care unit at an area hospital.

Shigella is an infectious bacterial disease that is spread when food or water is handled by an infected person or contaminated hands. Produce contaminated by human sewage or by flies that land on the food can cause intense illness in humans. Flies can breed in the contaminated feces and carry the shigella bacteria.

Those infected with shigella reportedly begin to feel sick within a day or two after having been exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms of the disease include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. The illness typically lasts between five to seven days but can become fatal for patients who experience severe symptoms of the disease.

Gregory Meissner is one of two seafood restaurant customers who filed a lawsuit against the eatery after being stricken with shigella. Meissner said he visited the restaurant on Friday and ordered a ceviche tostada. The next morning, the symptoms of the disease began, and he was hospitalized through Sunday. Public health officials closed the restaurant to conduct an investigation into the California outbreak.

New shigella cases were received by Santa Clara County public health officials, and reports from area medical providers are still being received. California health department staffers are currently testing items inside the seafood restaurant and interviewing workers.

“People with diarrhea — even mild — must not work, especially food service workers, healthcare providers, and childcare workers,” a release by the health department said. “Proper and frequent hand washing is very important in preventing continued spread.”

Santa Clara County Health Department staffers are hopeful that they are nearing a peak in the outbreak.

“What we’re beginning to see is a leveling off,” Santa Clara County Director of Public Health Dr. Sara Cody said.

Dr. Cody also stated that just a “handful” of food poisoning victims were infected at a later time by individuals who had eaten at the seafood restaurant and contracted the bacterial disease.

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