The shigella outbreak linked to a San Jose seafood restaurant continues to grow, with the number of confirmed or believed cases now at 141, public health officials said Friday.
Santa Clara County health officials said of the 141 cases, 118 were Santa Clara County residents and the remaining 23 patients live in nearby counties.
Lab tests have confirmed shigellosis, an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called shigella, in 49 of the cases. Of the confirmed cases, 35 were from Santa Clara County and 14 were from Alameda, Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.
In almost all of the cases, the patients ate at Mariscos San Juan Restaurant No. 3 on Oct. 16 and 17.
Public health officials began receiving reports last weekend of people becoming severely ill after eating at the restaurant in the 200 block of North 4th Street. Twelve patients were hospitalized in intensive care.
The disease 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.
The restaurant has remained closed as health officials continue to investigate the outbreak. At least two customers have filed lawsuits against the restaurant.
Santa Clara County public health officials said people who ate at the restaurant on Oct. 16 and 17 and fell ill should report their symptoms to healthcare professionals.
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.