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Infected Food Handler Responsible for Salmonella Outbreak at Don Antonio’s

An ill food handler was the likely source of the Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak at Don Antonio’s, the popular West Los Angeles Mexican restaurant, that this past March 18-20 infected 23 diners, according to reports from the state and country public health departments.

Alternatively referred to as “Restaurant A” by the county and Don Antonio’s in the state report, the establishment where the March outbreak occurred was originally called out on social media. Then several patrons sued the Mexican restaurant over their illnesses.

donantonio's_406x250Complaints to the Los Angeles County Health Department came in on March 24-25 from four separate groups. All four groups dined at Don Antonio’s on Friday, March 20, 2015, eating the same food and experiencing the same symptoms.

The suspect menu items were enchiladas, tacos, chile relleños, beans, rice, chips and salsa. Eleven people covered by the initial four complaints were experiencing diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fevers, body aches, and headaches.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Acute Disease Control Program investigated the outbreak to determine its extent, risk factors for the disease, and preventive steps. LA’s Environmental Health Services unit inspected Don Antonio’s three times.

All the cases ate at the restaurant between 3/18/15 and 3/20/15, the California Department of Public Health report states. “We were unable to identify a food item using statistical analysis in a case control study. There were 13 confirmed Salmonella cases, 10 presumptive cases, and 9 confirmed employees.”

“All employees were removed or transferred to jobs that did not require food handling until cleared by Public Health,” the report continues. “Cases in sensitive occupations were appropriately dealt with by the District Public Health Nurses handling each case. The restaurant voluntarily closed and performed terminal cleaning; no additional complaints have been received for patrons who ate after March 20, 2015.”

None of the illnesses resulted in death. One person was hospitalized, and two were treated during hospital emergency room visits. Another 17 of the 23 sought help from their own health care provider or urgent care facilities. Most of the illnesses lasted four or five days, with the longest recovery taking 11 days.

Don Antonio’s employed 36 people at the time of the outbreak. All were tested, and nine were positive for the Salmonella Enteritidis with the PFGE pattern associated with the outbreak. Each of those were removed from food handling.

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