Shigella Outbreak In California Spreads To More Counties, 110 Reported Cases

The shigella outbreak in California has spread to additional Bay Area counties, and the number of victims has now climbed to 110.

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 on Sunday after more than 40 people became ill with the infectious bacteria shigella. Now, that number has climbed to 110, and three more counties have been affected.

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 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.

According to the Los Angeles Times, five confirmed cases of shigella were found in Alameda, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo counties. The Santa Clara County health officials said at least 110 cases of shigella have been reported to them so far. Of the 110 patients who have reported feeling ill after eating at Mariscos San Juan Restaurant on 4th Street in San Jose, 92 of them are Santa Clara County residents and the remaining 18 patients live in other counties. Twenty-four of the cases reported in Santa Clara County were confirmed to be shigellosis. On Thursday, the San Mateo County Health System confirmed that three cases of shigella were linked to the San Jose outbreak.

Although the shigella outbreak has continued to grow over the past week, the county authorities believe the outbreak has finally peaked.

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

The shigella outbreak had already led to two lawsuits being filed against the owners of the Mariscos San Juan Restaurant. Now, another lawsuit has reportedly been filed in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. 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. Martin and Manuela Chavez had their lawyer Robert H. Bohn Jr. of San Jose file their lawsuit on Thursday. Bohn Jr. says he expects more lawsuits to follow.

“Why not?” asked Angelica Haro, a house cleaner who became sick along with her boyfriend, a construction worker, after eating at Mariscos on Friday. “We’ve been buying expensive medicines and have lost two days of work.”

Michael Balliet, the head of the county’s consumer protection division, said the owners have not been available for comments but have been cooperating fully throughout the ordeal.

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