Not so long ago, Hallettsville, TX, was known for its nearby “Chicken Ranch” and its historic Courthouse square was the location of city scenes in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the 1982 musical starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton.
In recent days, however, the county seat of Lavaca County, TX, became the center of a Shigellosis outbreak. Hallettsville has already seen its popular Cabos San Lucas Mexican Grill re-opened for the weekend after a four-day closure associated with the outbreak investigation.
The Texas Department of State Health Services’s Public Health Region 8 leads the Lavaca County shigellosis investigation. It is “working to identify the source of the outbreak by interviewing individuals who have become sick and collecting food samples from a location where multiple individuals have eaten before becoming sick.”
“The investigation into a shigellosis outbreak in Lavaca County is ongoing and the source of the outbreak has not been determined yet,” Texas spokeswoman Lara Anton told Food Safety News.
The Region 8 investigation has not itself named any locations associated with the outbreak nor has it released any estimates for the numbers involved.
It has said that Shigellosis is an infection caused by ingesting Shigella bacteria, which spreads easily by infected food or swallowing water while swimming in an improperly treated swimming pool, or touching infected surfaces that contain bacteria from someone already infected.
Symptoms are harsh and included:
–Diarrhea, which may include blood and/or mucus
–Empty bowels that still signal an urge to pass.
Region 8 is asking that healthcare workers report shigellosis cases while also testing for it if patients report the symptoms. Food histories should also be taken.
Anyone with symptoms should see their doctor and get antibiotics for the infection.
The Texas Department of Health Services recommends anyone with symptoms should wash their hands often, use a separate bathroom from others in the household, avoid preparing food, and refrain from swimming, having sex, or working in health, school, daycare, or food service jobs until two weeks after diarrhea ends.
Earlier this year, the Tamarind Tree restaurant in Seattle was associated with a Shigella outbreak that sicked 32.
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