As of 5:00 pm October 23, 2015, the number of outbreak-associated cases of Shigella food poisoning reported to the Santa Clara County Public health Department is 182. Of these cases, 144 people live in Santa Clara County. Thirty-eight reported cases live in other counties.
Of the 182 total cases, 72 are lab confirmed. Other counties affected in this outbreak include Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Marin, and Merced. Almost all of the cases reported that they ate at Mariscos San Juan No. 3 restaurant on Friday, October 16 or Saturday, October 17, 2015.
This outbreak has been growing steadily since it was first reported on October 20, 2105. Many of the patients in this outbreak have been hospitalized, and some have had to be admitted to intensive care. The Mariscos San Juan No. 3 restaurant has been closed since October 18, 2015 and it will remain closed until public health officials are assured of the safety of its food.
The multiplier for Shigella, in other words, the number official use to estimate the total number sickened in any outbreak, is 11.9. That means there could be more than 2,100 people sickened in this particular outbreak. The multiplier for Shigella is lower than the multiplier for Salmonella (30.3), since this illness is usually severe and many patients require medical care.
The symptoms of shigellosis, the illness caused by this pathogenic bacteria, include watery or bloody diarrhea with severe abdominal pain. People are usually hospitalized for dehydration, but this illness can progress to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can cause kidney failure and death.
HUS is caused by shiga toxin-producing compounds that get into the bloodstream. They attack the kidneys, causing clots in that organ, resulting in kidney failure. The symptoms of HUS include pale skin tone, little to no urine output, blood in the urine, small bruises, bleeding from the nose or mouth, fatigue, and irritability. If anyone is experiencing these symptoms, a visit to the emergency room is critical.
People contract this infection by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated with feces. The number of bacteria that can cause illness is very small, and the amount of feces that contaminates food is too small to see. The illness is very contagious. People who have had this illness can be contagious up to 6 weeks after symptoms subside.
Because Shigella is so contagious, people who work in certain industries, such as health care, day care, and the restaurant industry, should be cleared by a doctor before they return to work. Hygiene is also a consideration. This illness can be spread person-to-person. The only way to stop it is to wash your hands frequently, especially when preparing food for others.
Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, and caring for anyone who has a diarrheal illness. Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing and serving food. And do not go to work or school if you have a diarrheal illness.
If you ate at the Mariscos San Juan No. 3 restaurant on the weekend of October 16 – 17, 2015 and have experienced a diarrheal illness, please see your doctor. Shigella can be treated with antibiotics, although most people need palliative care. Using medications to control diarrhea can make the illness worse.