On Monday, health authorities from Santa Clara County announced that the San Jose Shigella outbreak expanded to six counties, sickening 182 people. Of the 182 reported cases 72 were confirmed as being directly associated with the highly infectious intestinal disease.
First cases of Shigella were confirmed in people dinning out at a Mexican & Seafood restaurant in San Jose, California on October 16 and 17. The outbreak has now expanded to relatively remote counties including Central Valley.
Health authorities cautioned that the disease is ‘extremely contagious.’ The Santa Clara County Public Health Department recommends restaurant staffers to carefully and frequently wash their hands, especially after using the bathroom.
You can get Shigella after having direct contact with bacteria found in human stool or by eating food prepared by a person infected with the bacteria. Health officials believe that San Jose Shigella outbreak first emerged at Mariscos San Juan restaurant, on Fourth Street. The contaminated food must have been served for at most two straight days, Oct. 16 and 17.
Despite the short time frame for exposure, it spread like wildfire because of it being so infectious. Plus, the restaurant was immediately shut down after the first cases were reported.
The bacteria can trigger recurrent diarrhea, fever and chills. It is passed from one human to another especially when a person that handles food doesn’t wash his or her hands after taking a dump.
Health investigators believe that the outbreak was caused by a food handler, but they couldn’t identify the person or tell whether there was just one individual involved or more. Inspectors still investigate the cause of the infection. All Mariscos staffers were tested and the results are expected to be made public this week.
By the end of last week, 144 cases were reported in Santa Clara County and 38 more in other counties including Santa Cruz, Alameda, and San Mateo. Of all the cases 72 were confirmed via laboratory tools. Of the confirmed cases more than 50 are in Santa Clara.
Nearly all patients dinned out at the restaurant, while very few cases occurred when a person was exposed to the bacteria after coming into contact with infected persons.
The restaurant’s customers were mostly Hispanic since the location is focused on Mexican seafood. But other people were also loyal customers including Greg Meissner, the dean of Independence High School, who sued the restaurant. Until now the restaurant is still closed and its managers declined to comment on the issue.
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