The number of victims believe to be linked to a outbreak of Shigella connected with a San Francisco Mexican seafood restaurant has risen to over 90 people as the highly contagious disease spreads throughout the Bay Area.
The Mariscos San Juan restaurant #3, a seafood eatery in Santa Clara county located at 205 N. Fourth Steet, is reportedly the epicenter of the outbreak. Officials closed the restaurant on Sunday after five people infected with Shigella were hospitalized after eating there on Friday or Saturday. On Wednesday, two victims filed a lawsuit against the restaurant.
“This can’t happen again to anyone,” said Greg Meissner, the dean of students at Independence High School and one of the two men who sued the restaurant.
After eating take out from Mariscos San Juan on Friday night, Meissner says he felt nauseous and dizzy, in addition to suffering from severe stomach disorders. When his temperature rose to 105 degrees, he began to seriously consider going to the hospital. Although he is feeling better now, Meissner still suffers from lingering effects of the illness.
The ongoing investigation into the Shigella outbreak currently suggests that all of the nearly 100 cases originated from eating at Mariscos on Friday or Saturday. Health officials involved with the inquiry believe that a contaminated food handler spread the disease.
“What we know is everyone who was ill has eaten at that restaurant location,” said county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “The restaurant is closed until we can be assured that there is no further risk to the public.”
Shigella is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea in humans and primates. In rare cases, it can lead to death. Typically, the bacteria are spread through poor hygienic practices such as failing to wash hands properly after using the bathroom. Even the smallest amount of the Shigella bacteria can cause symptoms in a person.
According to his lawsuit, Meissner ate a ceviche tostada- chopped seafood marinated in lime and served in a hard tortilla shell. The lawsuit accuses the restaurant owners of negligence and seeks unspecified damages.
Although all 90 people are expected to survive the ordeal, already 12 have required intensive care treatment at local hospitals.