Shigella outbreaks spreads to 4 Bay Area counties, 110 suspected cases

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Shigella outbreak linked to a South Bay seafood restaurant has now grown to 110 suspected cases and has spread to a total of four Bay Area counties.

Mariscos San Juan, a popular restaurant in San Jose, was closed down over the weekend following dozens of people's reporting diarrhea and fever after eating there. Public health officials believe it to be Shigella, a form of bacteria that is highly infectious.

Of the reported 110 suspected Shigella cases, 92 are in Santa Clara County and the 18 others in Santa Cruz, Alameda and San Mateo counties.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit was filed by the dean of students at a local high school who's been a customer at the restaurant for a couple years. Greg Meissner went to the restaurant on Friday for take-out. By the next day, he was taken down by Shigella.

VIDEO: Victim describes Shigella illness after eating at San Jose restaurant

Meissner was masking how he felt after winding up in the emergency room for seven hours at O'Connor Hospital Saturday night. He developed a 105 degree fever and other symptoms consistent with Shigella after eating a ceviche tostada the day before at Mariscos San Juan #3 on North 4th Street in San Jose.

"It is an extremely high fever, really bad chills, extremely bad cramping, constant running to the bathroom, nausea, vomiting, dizziness," he explained.

The cause of the outbreak is still under investigation, but is slowed by the fact some restaurant employees have not yet turned in stool samples for testing. County health officers believe the reason may be secondary infections as the highly contagious bacteria spreads.

This is believed to be the largest outbreak of Shigella to occur in Santa Clara County.

In 2000, more than 220 people got sick from Shigella bacteria at a Mexican restaurant in Redwood City that is no longer in business.

More lawsuits are expected in the San Jose outbreak.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of Shigella include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps starting a day or two after being exposed to the bacteria. The symptoms usually go away in 5-10 days. Shigella can be stopped by frequent and careful hand-washing with soap. Click here for further details on Shigella from the CDC.
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