Arizona Mexican Restaurant E. coli Outbreak Sickens 52

A West Valley Mexican Restaurant, Frederico’s, is the focus of an investigation by the Maricopa County Health Department after 52 customers became ill with E. coli. The restaurant, located in Litchfield Park, Arizona, voluntarily closed for three days to clean all surfaces and replace all foods at the location, but has since reopened.

Growing Number of Illnesses

As of August 8, 2013, 52 people became ill after eating at the restaurant, and 18 of them needed hospitalization. Some of those who became ill have suffered from kidney failure. Patients complained of severe abdominal cramping and diarrhea, some so severe they were hospitalized for dehydration. According to the health department, the restaurant has been extremely helpful in providing food samples and voluntarily closing out of concern for the customers.

Type of E. coli

Tests run on the patients who are suffering from the illness show that the type of E. coli causing the infection is E. coli O157. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains that E.coli O157 is the best understood of the bacteria as it is one of the most common, and first identified in 1982. In most cases, O157 causes more serious illness than non-O157 STEC serogroups, but both types can cause serious illnesses, especially in young children or the elderly.

Cause of Outbreak

Currently, the Maricopa County Health Department is still investigating what may have caused the outbreak at the Phoenix area restaurant, so there is no information as to whether it was contaminated food or surfaces. Three victims who fell ill due to the outbreak have already filed lawsuits after eating at the location. Only the Litchfield Park location for the Frederico’s chain is under investigation, as no illnesses have been reported at other locations. The Maricopa County Health Department is asking anyone who ate at the 13132 W. Camelback Frederico’s location on or after July 23 and who has experienced E. coli symptoms to seek medical attention immediately. Those without a medical provider are urged to go to a local urgent care or community health center as soon as possible, as E. coli can lead to kidney failure.

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