Officials say dozens sick in Shigella Outbreak Linked to Restaurant in Texas

FOOD SAFETY NEWS – An outbreak of infections from Shigella linked to a Texas restaurant has grown to include 60 patients.

The ongoing outbreak is being investigated by the Texas Department of State Health Services and is centered in Hallettsville, which is the county seat of Lavaca County, TX. Reports from the area say the sick people ate at the Cabos San Lucas Mexican Grill. The restaurant was closed for four days this past week but has since reopened.

Health department officials have not said where the outbreak originates from and have not reported where the sick people live.

“We’re aware of 60 cases likely associated with this outbreak, but testing continues and all information to date is still preliminary,” Douglas Loveday of the Texas Department of State Health Services told Food Safety News.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services for Public Health Region 8, public health officers are interviewing sick people and collecting food samples from a single location where multiple people ate before becoming ill.

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Anyone who has symptoms of Shigella infection is urged to contact their doctor. Specific tests are required to determine whether the infection is present because it can mimic other illnesses.

Healthcare providers are encouraged to test patients for shigella if they report symptoms compatible with shigella infection. Healthcare providers are asked to obtain a detailed food history for all patients reporting symptoms of foodborne illnesses.

Healthcare professionals are requested to contact the regional health department if patients are identified. The Region 8 epidemiology department can be reached at 210-949-2121.

About Shigella infection

Shigellosis is an infection caused by ingesting Shigella bacteria. The bacteria spread easily, and people can become infected by eating food prepared by someone with shigellosis, swallowing water while swimming in a lake or improperly treated swimming pool, or touching surfaces or items contaminated with the bacteria from someone with an infection.

“Shigella infection (shigellosis) is an intestinal infection caused by a family of bacteria known as shigella. The main sign of shigella infection is diarrhea, which often is bloody. Shigella is very contagious. People get infected with shigella when they come in contact with and swallow small amounts of bacteria from the stool of a person who is infected with shigella. For example, this can happen in a child care setting when staff members don’t wash their hands well enough after changing diapers or helping toddlers with toilet training. Shigella bacteria can also be passed in infected food or by drinking or swimming in unsafe water.” 

Common symptoms of shigellosis are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, which may contain blood and/or mucus
  • Stomach Pain
  • Fever
  • Urge to pass stool but bowels are empty
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Symptoms usually start one to two days after infection and last seven days. In some cases, the frequency and consistency of bowel movements do not return to normal for several months.

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Tags: 2023 outbreaks, Cabos San Lucas Mexican Grill, Shigella, Texas, Texas Department of State Health Services

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