A Shigella outbreak has sickened 110 people so far in California, health officials have reported on Thursday.
It appears that all the cases that have been identified are linked to a downtown San Jose seafood restaurant, where the infected patients had dined recently.
A number of 92 people from Santa Clara County have contracted shigella after frequenting Mariscos San Juan Restaurant No. 3, a popular eatery on North 4th Street in San Jose. There are also 18 other patients from San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Alameda Counties.
A dozen patients were actually in intensive care due to complications related to the infection, and many others were also admitted to hospital because of their dire condition.
Two of the people who contracted the foodborne illness following their visit to the restaurant have actually filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the establishment’s owners, accusing them of negligence.
Both of the plaintiffs required hospitalization due to their condition, and although they have recently been released from hospital, they insist that they still experience unpleasant symptoms related to their prior disease. Indeed, although generally shigella symptoms usually last a week, sometimes vomiting and diarrhea can actually be prolonged for months.
Despite a growing number of cases being reported recently, county officials believe that the infection might soon experience a downward trend.
“What we’re beginning to see is a leveling off”, declared Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Director of Public Health.
Shigella is a very dangerous bacteria, which is highly contagious and potentially lethal in some cases. It affects around 500,000 people in the United States every year, and its main signs include severe diarrhea (sometimes accompanied with blood or mucus), abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting and nausea.
One of the common ways through which this disease can easily be spread is when food workers who have contracted the bacteria fail to wash their hands upon using the bathroom, and then handle meals which are given to customers.
It is speculated that this is what occurred on this occasion also, but so far Santa Clara county health officials haven’t yet released an official cause of the outbreak.
An investigation conducted by the Department of Environmental Health is still underway. Specialists initially inspected cooking procedures at the restaurant, and now stool samples from the eatery’s staff and owners are being analyzed.
According to health officials, laboratory test results regarding the source of contamination will be available next week.
In the meantime, given the severity of the symptoms associated with this bacterial infection, authorities urge locals to frequently and meticulously wash their hands, in order to prevent the outbreak from spreading even further. Strict precautions should be taken especially by those who work in the food industry, in childcare and healthcare.
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