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More Than 60 Sick in Casa Fiesta Outbreak

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Victims of the Casa Fiesta Salmonella outbreak in Norwalk, Ohio,  now number more than six dozen. Officials believe that as many as 64 patrons of Casa Fiesta Restaurant became sick after eating at the establishment in late April. Authorities have not yet been able to identify the source of the Salmonella outbreak and health officials cannot confirm how many people ate at the Mexican restaurant. Laboratory tests confirmed that 36 patrons were infected with Salmonella; however, 28 patients who complained of Salmonella-like symptoms opted against testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that about 40,000 cases of Salmonellosis are reported annually. Salmonella can occur when food is improperly stored or handled and when preparers do not wash their hands or do not sanitize implements involved in meat storage. Salmonella is a common organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain and cramping within 12 to 72 hours of infection. Laboratory testing is required to determine the presence of Salmonella; additional testing can determine the specific type and which antibiotics are needed. Generally, the illness lasts a week and most recover without treatment; however, in some, hospitalization is required because the infection may have spread from the intestines to the blood stream and other body sites.

Without treatment—antibiotics—severe cases of Salmonella can result in death; however, some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals. A small number of persons infected with Salmonella will go on to develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination—a condition called Reiter’s syndrome—which can last for months or years and can lead to chronic arthritis; antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in whether or not the person later develops arthritis.

Currently, one man who claims he fell violently ill after eating at Casa Fiesta is suing the restaurant. Kody Dewitt, is seeking over $25,000 in damages for the hospital bills and hardships he claims he suffered from eating salmonella-tainted food at Casa Fiesta and filed the lawsuit in Huron County Common Pleas Court in early May. The lawsuit follows an Ohio Department of Health investigation into the initial 26 confirmed cases of Salmonella food poisoning wherein all of the patients ate at Casa Fiesta at 196 Milan Avenue, according to Tim Hollinger, Huron County health commissioner.

The lawsuit contends that soon after Dewitt ate at Casa Fiesta on April 25, he fell terribly ill, requiring hospitalization; he lost wages because of the Salmonella poisoning; and he sustained bodily injury and permanent damage that will forever limit his earning capability. Local news agencies report that other people who claim they were sickened by Salmonella-tainted food at Casa Fiesta plan to sue.

Meanwhile, in another restaurant-related, food borne bacterial contamination, two women who were hospitalized for several weeks due to E. coli infections linked to tainted lettuce in a Wendy’s meal have recently filed suit against the popular fast food chain for an unspecified amount.

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