Texas Pizza Restaurant Named In E. coli Lawsuit

A lawsuit was just filed on behalf of victims sickened in an <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Fralos-Art-Leon-Springs-TX-E-Coli">E. coli outbreak in Leon Springs, Texas, near San Antonio. The lawsuit alleges diners became ill after eating at Fralo’s Art of Pizza around the same time the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) experienced a 400,000-gallon sewage spill in the area.

In August 2010, at least two-dozen people fell sick with E. coli after eating at Fralo’s Art of Pizza. Tests of water from Fralo’s well indicated the presence of E. coli. The restaurant was ordered closed by the local health department, but reopened August 23 after new testing found no E. coli.

It was later discovered that a massive 400,000-gallon sewage spill took place at the San Antonio Water System lift system at Boerne Stage Road, which occurred when the station malfunctioned and sent raw sewage into the ground near Fralo’s restaurant. The malfunction coincided with the Fralo’s Art of Pizza outbreak.

It is uncertain when the spill started; however, while it was discovered on Wednesday, August 18, it is known that Fralo’s patrons began reporting illnesses earlier that week. Officials said the size of the spill indicated that it had been going on for several days. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has since taken over the investigation.

The plaintiffs consumed food and water served at Fralo’s shortly before experiencing intense, gastrointestinal symptoms. The victims sought medical treatment and were diagnosed with E. coli poisoning.

Fralo’s Art of Pizza relies on a well for its water and is required to have its water tested once monthly; however, Fralo’s owner told MySanAntonio.com that his last test was conducted in March 2010 after Metro Health told him tests were no longer needed.

When the sewage spill occurred, the San Antonio Water System notified 30 to 40 businesses and homeowners. Most cases of E. coli go unreported, so it is highly likely that this incident sickened far more people than the 24 Fralo’s patrons reported.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that every year at least 2,000 Americans are hospitalized, with about 60 dying as a direct result of E. coli infection and related complications. Most infections come from eating undercooked ground beef, drinking contaminated water, drinking unpasteurized (raw) milk, and working with cattle.

E. coli symptoms generally manifest about seven days following exposure and usually begin with sudden, severe abdominal cramps. This is followed in a few hours by watery diarrhea that eventually becomes bloody. Some victims may experience a mild fever, as well as nausea or vomiting.

While healthy adults can recover from E. coli infections in about a week, the disease is extremely dangerous for children, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy treatment or the immunocompromised. In such patients, the infection can also cause a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), in which the red blood cells are destroyed and the kidneys fail. This complication can be fatal.

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