Santa Clara County health officials shut down a popular Mexican
seafood restaurant in downtown San Jose after more than 40
people came down with food poisoning symptoms linked to the
extremely infectious bacteria shigella, authorities said.
Mariscos San Juan restaurant at 205 N. Fourth St. was closed
Sunday morning and remained shuttered Tuesday after the outbreak
of the nasty bacteria that causes miserable bouts of fever and
Of the more than 40 people who have shown symptoms of shigella,
15 tested positive for the bacteria as of Tuesday and many were
being treated at hospital intensive care units, said Allison
Thrash, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County Public Health
Health officials were first alerted to the outbreak when five
ailing diners — who had all eaten at Mariscos — showed up at
South Bay hospitals over the weekend with fever and diarrhea.
Health officers are working to determine where the bacteria
originated in the restaurant.
“What we know is everyone who was ill has eaten at that
restaurant location,” said county Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.
“The restaurant is closed until we can be assured that there is
no further risk to the public.”
Most of the ill patients had eaten at the restaurant on Friday
or Saturday, and many were admitted to hospitals. Some patients
toughed it out and did not seek medical attention, officials
County health officials suspect there may be several more cases
and urge anyone who has recently eaten at Mariscos and is having
symptoms of shigella to notify the public health department or
to see a doctor.
Shigella is an infectious bacteria that causes watery or bloody
diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and malaise. It is often spread
by eating food prepared by someone carrying the bacteria, or by person-to-person contact.
The illness typically lasts about a week, though untreated
people may carry the bacteria for up to six weeks, health
officials said. Treatment with antibiotics can shorten the time
a person carries shigella.
The bacteria is the third most common cause of bacterial
gastroenteritis in the country behind salmonella and E. coli,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hundreds of thousands of cases are reported each year in the
United States, and though the symptoms can be severe, deaths
from the bacteria are rare.
People who think they may have been infected can contact the
Santa Clara County Public Health Department at (408) 885-4214.