A strain of Shigella bacteria has been traced back to a restaurant in San Jose, California, after about 80 people showed symptoms of contraction.
Mariscos San Juan, a Mexican seafood restaurant, has been determined as the source of the very infectious bacterium. According to Public Health Director Sara Cody, the strain is of "a garden variety" and is easily treatable with antibiotics, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Already 12 people have been taken to the ICU for treatment. While all are expected to recover, officials fear that the number of people infected could grow to over 100 as cases of second-hand infection start to turn up.
The restaurant was shut down on Oct. 18 and will remain closed "until the safety of the public can be assured," county officials said. Inspectors cleared the two other Mariscos San Juan restaurants, which remain open.
Health officials said that "all possible sources of contamination are currently being investigated," but they suspect it was spread by a contaminated food handler. The bacterium is typically spread when infected kitchen workers prepare food after not washing their hands properly.
Symptoms of infection include severe fever, diarrhea and stomach pain. These symptoms typically show within one to four days, but can take up to a week to appear.
Infected individuals are highly contagious as the bacteria can spread to others quickly.
Erika Funes, a mother of two, was among the infected.
"I'm feeling better now, but I still have some stomach pain," she told the San Jose Mercury News. "My main concerns are my two little ones at home. I don't want them to get infected."
She was rushed to the hospital when her temperature reached 105.2 degrees the night of Oct 16, after dining at Mariscos San Juan for lunch.
According to Michael Balliet, head of the county consumer protection division, Mariscos San Juan was cited for a major health code violation in August for not using proper methods to cool shrimp tacos. This problem was reportedly corrected on the same day.