Colorado public health officials have confirmed three cases of typhoid fever among individuals who had eaten at a Mexican restaurant in Firestone, CO, this past August. Two of them were hospitalized, and all three have recovered. No new cases have been reported. Officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment suspect that the illnesses were acquired from an infected food handler at a franchised Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurant in Firestone. The infected food handler is not working at the restaurant, does not have symptoms of the illness, and will receive appropriate medical treatment, according to the department. Additional testing of current and former employees will be completed to make sure that no other individuals are confirmed with the illness. “Although the restaurant’s operations have not been impacted, as a precaution the franchisee stepped up sanitization of all touch points in the restaurant and discarded all food the worker may have been in contact with. We’re thankful the three individuals at the center of this investigation have recovered, and we wish the franchisee’s employee a speedy recovery as well,” Qdoba said in a statement. “Typhoid fever is very rare,” said Mark E. Wallace, M.D., MPH, executive director of the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment. “The good news is the illness is treatable with antibiotics. Simply having eaten at the restaurant is not a reason to see your health care provider. Only those currently exhibiting symptoms should contact their health care provider.” The signs and symptoms for typhoid fever include a sustained fever as high as 103-104 degrees F. The infected person may also feel weak, or have stomach pains, headache, or loss of appetite. In some cases, patients have a rash of flat, rose-colored spots. The only way to know for sure if an illness is typhoid fever is to have stool samples or blood tested for the presence of Salmonella typhi. If someone is currently ill with these symptoms, they should contact their health care provider to get tested and treated. The health department stated that it has not received any reports of sick individuals since mid-October. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued a statewide message to health care providers notifying them of the typhoid fever cases. Also known as Salmonella typhi, typhoid fever is a life-threatening bacterial infection. In the United States, it’s estimated that approximately 5,700 cases occur annually. Most cases (up to 75 percent) are acquired while traveling internationally. Typhoid fever is still common in the developing world, where it affects about 21 million people each year. People can get typhoid fever if they eat food or drink beverages handled by a person who is shedding Salmonella typhi or if sewage contaminated with the bacteria gets into the drinking water. Colorado averages about five cases of typhoid fever each year. For more information, contact the Colorado CO-HELP telephone number at (877) 462-2911, or click here to obtain a typhoid fever fact sheet.
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