Illinois Subway Named in Shigella Lawsuit

Following a <"">Shigella outbreak last year that was linked to an Illinois Subway restaurant, 74 people have filed a lawsuit after suffering from a serious gastrointestinal illness.

As we’ve mentioned, shigellosis (dysentery) typically appears from 12-to-96 hours and up to one week following contact and lasts about 4-to-7 days. The pathogen prefers raw produce and many ready-to-eat foods and can be spread by flies.

Shigella is a genus of bacteria that are a major cause of diarrhea worldwide and is transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food or water—generally with feces. Shigella can invade and destroy the cells lining the large intestine, causing mucosal ulceration and bloody diarrhea and fever, abdominal cramps, and rectal pain.

According to the Trib Local, the lawsuit was filed yesterday in DuPage County Circuit Court against Neel Subway Inc., which is located at 1009 E. Roosevelt Road. The lawsuit alleges that from February 23 to March 1, 2010, shigellosis infection caused 328 illnesses.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and alleges that a DuPage County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health probe revealed that two Subway restaurant employees tested positive for the same shigella-linked outbreak; both employees suffered from gastrointestinal illness before the outbreak, noted the Trib Local.

Lawsuit documentation indicates that “poor hygienic practices by these employees and, generally, at the defendant’s Subway restaurant, caused widespread contamination of patrons’ food.” The documentation also indicated that the plaintiffs suffered “significant physical injury and economic loss,” reported the Trib Local.

The Subway shigella outbreak, according to our last report, was linked to the Lombard, Illinois Subway. Illnesses caused at least 13 hospitalizations in that outbreak as of last year. The Shigella bacteria involved were Shigella sonnei, which can be lethal.

As we’ve mentioned previously, the DuPage County Health Department never found the source of the Shigella, and concedes it may never be able to.

Meanwhile, last year, we wrote that a final report issued by the state Department of Public Health in Illinois said the source of a different outbreak; this time, Salmonella, was linked to a number of Illinois Subway restaurants and likely originated with Sysco Central Illinois Inc.

In all, 109 cases of Salmonella were confirmed in that outbreak and another 90 so-called “probable” cases took place from late April to June of that year; 28 people were hospitalized and 12 of Subway’s food handlers tested positive for the dangerous Salmonella pathogen. Lettuce, tomatoes, and olives, were believed to be the culprits.

As of our last report, one lawsuit was filed in connection with the Subway Salmonella outbreak. Others have been threatened, and more are expected in the outbreak that affected 47 restaurants in 28 counties, and involved the rare, sometimes deadly, Salmonella Hvittingfoss pathogen.

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