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Shigella outbreak spreads as more San Jose restaurant customers get sick

Public health officials are now estimating the number of people who contracted a bacterial infection after eating at a San Jose seafood restaurant exceeds 90, a dozen of whom wound up in intensive care.

At least 93 patients suffered fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea after eating at Mariscos San Juan Restaurant No. 3 in the 200 block of North 4th Street over the weekend, according to the Santa Clara Department of Public Health. Many patients required hospitalization, and 12 needed intensive-care treatment.

At least 24 cases were confirmed to be shigellosis, an infectious diarrheal disease caused by a group of bacteria called shigella. The disease spreads through food or water that has been handled by contaminated hands or an infected person.

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People also can contract the disease by eating produce contaminated by human sewage or by contaminated flies landing on food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flies can breed in feces contaminated with shigella.

“We want the public to know that Shigella is extremely contagious,” the public health department said in a statement.

The restaurant has remained closed since Sunday as public health officials continue to investigate the source of the outbreak.

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

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After the outbreak sickened dozens of people, some customers wrote negative reviews on Yelp, describing some of the symptoms.

Reviewer Paulina A on Sunday wrote, “PLEASE DO NOT EAT HERE!!!! My sister and brother in law along with his parents ate here Friday night and all four of them ended up in the hospital with food poisoning!!!”

On Wednesday, Gregory Meissner filed a lawsuit against the restaurant, saying he ordered a ceviche tostada Friday and fell terribly ill the following morning. He was taken to a hospital emergency room that evening and remained there until Sunday.

Public health officials are asking anyone who ate at the restaurant on Friday or Saturday and had a sudden onset of diarrhea and fever within one to two days after eating there to seek medical attention so they can be tested.

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