MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than 180 people have now reported getting sick from a restaurant in San Jose including five in Merced County.
The illness is called "shigellosis," and it causes some pretty miserable symptoms. Local health officials say five people from Merced County are suspected of getting sick after eating at the restaurant in San Jose and three of them were hospitalized.
Mariscos San Juan #3 is a popular Mexican restaurant in San Jose, but now it's in the spotlight for a reason that may ruin many appetites. Health officials say it's been linked to about 70 confirmed cases of shigellosis and many more suspected cases.
"For the germ shigella, it's a bacteria that's passed from person to person contact primarily through contaminated food or beverages, so if someone doesn't wash their hands adequately after going to the bathroom then they can pass it onto food," said Richard Rios, Public Health Manager, Merced County.
Rios says five men in Merced County got sick after eating at the restaurant on October 16th and 17th. Two of them were hospitalized at Mercy Medical Center, and a third was treated in the bay area, but they've all since been released. "Two of the 5 have been laboratory confirmed and all the information we've gathered we've been providing to the state of California and the Santa Clara Department of Public Health for the ongoing investigation that's being conducted."
Bay area resident Greg Meissner became the first to file a lawsuit against the restaurant's owners. He's seeking damages for pain and suffering after spending seven hours in the emergency room. "It's an extremely high fever, really bad chills, extremely bad cramping, constant running to the bathroom, nausea, vomiting, dizziness."
Rios says most people who get the disease recover completely, and good hygiene can keep it from spreading since it is not airborne. "There really isn't any special precautions, and the local hospitals and health providers ensure that all the proper procedures are followed."
Health officials suspect the shigella bacteria was spread by a contaminated food handler at the restaurant, but the are still investigating.
Anyone who ate at the restaurant in mid-October and got sick should contact their local health department.
5 people from Merced County get shigellosis from San Jose restaurant