Two lawsuits were filed this week against a Subway in Lombard, Illinois, the site of a county-wide Shigella outbreak. The suits were filed by Marler Clark, the Seattle-based foodborne illness law firm, on behalf of Barbara and Andres Romero and Ron and Sarah Bowers.
On March 4, 2010, the DuPage County Health Department closed the Subway located at 1009 East Roosevelt Road in Lombard after receiving multiple reports of gastrointestinal illness from restaurant patrons.
DuPage County health officials have since confirmed 21 cases of Shigella poisoning linked to Subway food, and suspect more to follow. Of the 21 confirmed cases, 7 have required hospitalization.
On February 26, 2010, Ron and Sarah Bowers purchased a sandwich for their child, J.B., from the Subway located in Lombard. Unbeknownst to the couple, the sandwich was contaminated by Shigella sonnei, a potentially lethal bacterium.
The following day, J.B. began to experience signs of extreme discomfort. He started to run a mild fever, and was soon doubled over from agonizing abdominal cramps. His condition continued to worsen into the next day, and by late afternoon on February 28, he was vomiting and experiencing explosive bouts of diarrhea. Over the course of that night, J.B. went to the bathroom to vomit or suffer another bout of diarrhea approximately every thirty minutes, until he was so exhausted and dehydrated he fainted on the bathroom floor.
On the morning of March 1, 2010, J.B.’s mother, Sarah, took her son to see his pediatrician. The doctor rehydrated J.B. aggressively with intravenous fluids, and after several hours, he was discharged.
J.B., however, continued to suffer from nausea, fevers, abdominal cramps, and frequent diarrhea. On March 5, Sarah took J.B. back to the pediatrician due to his unstable condition.
Around the time of J.B.’s second appointment, Ron and Sarah Bowers saw a local news story highlighting the Shigella outbreak associated with the Subway they had recently visited. They contacted the DuPage County Health Department, and subsequent stool samples submitted by JB confirmed the presence of Shigella.
Barbara Romero, a 30-year-old woman, also contracted Shigella sonnei from the Lombard Subway. She consumed a toasted chicken and onion teriyaki sandwich from Subway on two separate occasions, once on February 23 and again on February 25, before she began experiencing symptoms. In the early morning hours of Saturday, February 27, she began suffering from abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which were soon followed by vomiting and a high fever.
At 3:00 p.m., fearing that she might die if she did not get medical help, Mrs. Romero called her husband, who interrupted an educational class to rush her to the emergency department at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital in Hindsdale, Illinois.
At the ER, Mrs. Romero submitted a stool sample for testing, which ultimately tested positive for Shigella sonnei. After the attending physician stabilized her with intravenous fluids and antibiotics, Mrs. Romero was admitted to the regular hospital after more than 24 hours in the ER. She remained in the hospital until Tuesday, March 2, 2010, and since her discharge has continued to suffer from gastrointestinal problems.
The Department of Health is not sure where the Subway outbreak began, but officials said it could have come from the food or someone in the restaurant. Anyone who ate at the restaurant between Feb. 24 and March 1 and became ill within 12 hours to four days afterward is asked to report the incident to the health department at (630) 682-7400.