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San Jose restaurant reopens after nearly 200 people infected with shigella

A San Jose restaurant that sparked a shigella outbreak infecting nearly 200 people across six Bay Area counties reopened Friday, health officials said.

Mariscos San Juan Restaurant No. 3 at 205 N. 4th Street was closed for three weeks after several customers reported feeling ill after eating there Oct. 16 and 17.

But after a thorough cleaning with bleach and several health inspections, Santa Clara County Environmental Health Department officials allowed restaurant owners to reopen, department director Jim Blamey said.

Restaurant owners were forced to throw out food that had been sitting in the facility for two weeks. The owners and employees also went through sanitation and hand washing training.

The outbreak is the largest shigella-related incident in Santa Clara County, Blamey said.

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The county’s Public Health Department is still investigating the cause of the outbreak.

“The smoking gun may never be found,” he said.

Restaurant owner Sergio Becerra Cruz told KNTV-TV that business was down by 70%.

Public health officials said 194 case of shigella were reported. Of those cases, 155 were Santa Clara County residents and 39 were people who lived in other counties. Twelve patients were hospitalized in intensive care.

Lab tests confirmed that 108 cases were shigella, 86 of them in Santa Clara County.

Shigella illnesses also were reported in Alameda, Marin, Merced, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.

In nearly all cases, patients reported eating at the restaurant.

Shigella spreads when an infected person handles food or water. People can also become sick when produce has been contaminated by human sewage or by contaminated flies landing on food, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of shigella usually start one or two days after exposure. People can suffer diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. The sickness usually lasts between five and seven days, but shigella can be fatal in patients with severe symptoms.

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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