Illinois Subway Now Linked to 78 Illnesses

The number of <"">Shigellosis cases confirmed in laboratory testing has risen to 78 from 50, WGN-TV is reporting, citing DuPage County Health Department spokesman David Hass. All of the cases have been linked to the Lombard Subway restaurant located at 1009 E. Roosevelt Road in Lombard, Illinois, said WGN-TV.

Shigella is a genus of bacteria that are a major cause of diarrhea—with blood and mucus—worldwide. Shigella bacteria are transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food or water, or through person-to-person contact. In the body, Shigella bacteria can invade and destroy the cells lining the large intestine, causing mucosal ulceration and bloody diarrhea. Apart from diarrhea, symptoms of Shigella infection also include fever, abdominal cramps, and rectal pain. Most patients recover without complications within seven days.

Shigellosis can be treated with antibiotics, although, as with many other food borne illnesses, some strains have developed drug resistance. The Chicago Sun Times pointed out that the Shigella bacteria in this case appears to be Shigella sonnei, which can be lethal.

According to WGN-TV, Hass said that 11 people were hospitalized, with one remaining hospitalized; the restaurant, which was closed while the investigation continues, remains closed.

Last week we wrote that three lawsuits had been filed concerning the food borne illness outbreak, with the third involving a Wheeling man who allegedly became sick after eating at the Subway in Lombard late last month. The man said his symptoms continue.

According to Food Safety News, the complaint, which was filed in Dupage County Circuit Court, states that the man ate a sandwich prepared by the Lombard Subway restaurant on February 25. The man became ill the next day with symptoms typical to Shigellosis, becoming sicker over the next few days, said Food Safety News. By March 2, he was so ill his primary care doctor saw him and, by the next day, his diarrhea was bloody; he submitted a sample for testing, reported Food Safety News.

The man needed more treatment on March 5 when his condition worsened, and was seen at an Urgent Care Facility, where he was told that his prior stool sample tested positive for Shigella, explained Food Safety News. Antibiotic treatment was initiated.

A couple from Wheaton couple and a woman from Lombard, both in Illinois, also filed lawsuits, said WGNTV.

Meanwhile, last year we wrote that according to a then-released government report, despite efforts in the U.S. to contain food borne illness, there has been no reduction in the number of infections. As a matter-of-fact, food borne illness reports remained stable the prior year following a prior period of decline. The report issued by government researchers found no change in the rate of infections caused by Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, E.coli O157, and several other bacteria in 2007 compared with the previous three years and showed an increase in Cryptosporidium—a parasite that causes diarrhea—levels in recent years.

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