On Tuesday we learned about the outbreak of shigella at a San Jose Mexican seafood spot, Mariscos San Juan, originally reported as affecting about 40 people. That number has risen to 93, not including five more reported in Santa Cruz County, with 24 confirmed cases of the bacteria so far. As KRON 4 reports, there are already two lawsuits against the restaurant filed on Wednesday, both alleging negligence.
The news has now reached the national level, with ABC News picking up the story of the outbreak. It's believed to be the largest outbreak of shigella in Santa Clara County history.
There was recently an outbreak of shigella in Kansas City that was not tied to a specific restaurant, with 134 cases in the course of two months this summer. And the CDC issued a warning back in April that a multi-drug resistant strain of shigella was on the rise in the U.S. dating back to 2014, with 243 cases reported in 32 states in which the bacteria was resistant to treatment by Cipro (the antibiotic ciprofloxacin).
The shigella bacteria in San Jose, it's believed, could have been spread via a food handler who did not properly wash his or her hands after using the bathroom. The bacteria has also been known to come into the country via imported produce that had been rinsed or irrigated with water contaminated with fecal matter.
The restaurant may eventually reopen after a complete inspection by county health inspectors, and after confirming all employees are symptom-free.
Symptoms can include sudden diarrhea that may contain blood, abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting. Only a small amount of the bacteria is necessary to cause an infection.