Florida health officials are investigating a Salmonella outbreak potentially linked to a family-owned Mexican restaurant in Fernandina Beach. There were local news reports Wednesday of five confirmed and three probable illnesses connected with the outbreak, although a state health department spokesman would not provide any specifics to Food Safety News on Wednesday beyond a single quote. “We can confirm that that the department is investigating the incident at Pablo’s Mexican Cuisine and DBPR conducted an environmental assessment, which the [sic] can find on their website. We will have more information when our investigation concludes,” Brad Dalton, deputy press secretary for the Florida Department of Health, said in an email Wednesday afternoon. Dalton was referring to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation, which recently inspected the restaurant at 12 N. 2nd St. in Fernandina Beach, a city on Amelia Island off Florida’s northeastern coast. The inspections, done Aug. 19, 23, 24 and 25, revealed a number of “basic,” “intermediate,” and “high priority” food safety problems. These ranged from temperature abuses and mold to flying insects in the bar and signs of roach activity. The inspection reports show that either the violations were corrected at the time the inspections were done, warnings were given, or the timeline was extended for compliance with applicable regulations. The most recent report from the Aug. 25 inspection indicates that the restaurant “met inspection standards.” Pablo’s was open on Wednesday, and an employee there told Food Safety News that the restaurant had not been closed either during the recent inspections or afterward. “It’s weird because all the employees eat here. My own family eats here, and none of us has gotten sick ever,” she said. “It’s very strange and out of nowhere.” Salmonella bacteria usually cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness typically lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. However, diarrhea can sometimes be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. The infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites. In these cases, Salmonella can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.
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