Dozens of people get sick after eating at a locally famous Mexican restaurant in Fairfield, California. The restaurant closed its doors after health officials linked dozens of reported food poisoning cases to the restaurant.
Alejandro's Taqueria was the common denominator for the 32 food poisoning cases reported to the Solano County Department of Health.
"It became clear that a number of those people had eaten at Alejandro's restaurant, so that's when environmental health [investigators] went to the restaurant, took a lot of specimens and closed the restaurant," said Dr. Michael Stacey from the health department.
These customers reportedly ate at the Mexican restaurant between May 26 and 29. However, health officials raised concerns about the people who ate before and after the said dates.
The investigation found that the affected customers were sickened by a common foodborne illness called campylobacteriosis. The illness is caused by eating undercooked or raw poultry. It can also be the result of other food items' cross-contamination.
"Actually I'm surprised because of how clean we clean the restaurant. We are good restaurant. Sorry this happened to you, hopefully it wasn't from us," said Danny Hernandez, whose uncle owns the taqueria place. Hernandez added that they are doing the best they can to ensure this doesn't happen again.
Alejandro's Taqueria did not close its doors for good. The place will reopen when "there is no more bacteria there," said Stacey. The cause of the campylobacteriosis outbreak is still being investigated.
The disease is caused by a bacteria from the genus campylobacter. The symptoms can occur within two to five days after being exposed to the bacteria.
Campylobacteriosis symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which could be bloody. Infected individuals can also experience vomiting and nausea. Campylobacteriosis usually lasts about 7 days.
While many people recover after a few days' rest, people with compromised immune systems could suffer from more severe conditions when the bacteria spread to the person's bloodstream. Some of these conditions can become life-threatening.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacteria is one of the leading causes of diarrheal illness in the country. Based on the surveillance data from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), there are approximately 14 cases of campylobacteriosis per 100,000 people diagnosed annually.
However, many cases can go unreported or even undiagnosed. More than 1.3 million people in the United States are affected by campylobacteriosis each year based on estimates.