A large outbreak of Shigella food poisoning has been linked to the Mariscos San Juan No. 3 restaurant in San Jose, California, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD). At least 93 people have been sickened to date. Fifteen of those cases have been confirmed by laboratory diagnosis, and twelve patients are in intensive care units in area hospitals.

Shigella

The illnesses began Saturday, October 17, 2015, and have increased since then. Many of the patients have been admitted to the hospital. They all ate at Mariscos San Juan restaurant #3 at 205 North 4th Street in San Jose.

The restaurant was closed on Sunday, October 18, 2015 by SCCPHD and it will remain closed until officials are sure the food is safe. Investigators are looking into all possible sources of contamination, including contaminated food or drink, or ill workers.

Noted food safety attorney Fred Pritzker said, “Restaurants need to make sure that their workers are healthy before they touch food served to the public, and that the food they serve is wholesome. No one should become so ill just because they went to a restaurant for dinner. These serious illnesses are an indication of a potentially serious problem at that restaurant.”

The symptoms of shigellosis, the illness caused by this bacteria, include fever, abdominal pain, tenesmus (a painful sensation of needing to pass stools even when bowels are empty), vomiting, and diarrhea that may be bloody. Symptoms usually begin 1 to 2 days after exposure. Most people are sick for about a week, but some people can become so ill through dehydration and shock that they must be hospitalized. It may take several months for the GI tract to return to normal. This illness can be fatal in rare cases.

This is an extremely contagious diarrheal illness. It only takes a few of the bacteria to make someone extremely sick. Shigellosis is diagnosed with laboratory tests of stool samples.

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The illness may have been caused by an ill food worker, or by contaminated food or drink. If someone who has the bacteria in their system doesn’t wash their hands well, then touches surfaces such as fixtures, light switches, or utensils, that object can be contaminated. Just a touch from another person can pass the bacteria on.

Foods may be contaminated if growing fields have human sewage, or if irrigation water is contaminated with feces. Foods can also become contaminated in transport or during preparation. Swallowing pool, lake, or pond water that is contaminated is another means of Shigella transmission.

To prevent the spread of this bacteria, always wash your hands very well with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing or serving food or beverages. If you have a diarrheal illness, do not prepare or handle foods for others. Shigella patients should be given the all clear by their doctors before they return to work. And avoid swimming until you have recovered completely.

If you ate at the Mariscos San Juan restaurant No. 3 in San Jose, California on Friday or Saturday, October 16 or 17, 2015, and have experienced the sudden onset of diarrhea and fever within two days, please see your doctor. Then call our experienced food poisoning lawyers for help protecting your legal rights. Our law firm has represented many food poisoning patients and is one of the only firms in the country specializing in this area of litigation.