The number of people sickened in the "bloody diarrhea outbreak" in Maricopa County has reached 74 in the weeks after the outbreak, according to a county health department official.
County health department workers believe the outbreak stems from E. coli at a Federico's Mexican Food location.
The department announced the outbreak on August 2, after 11 cases had been reported. A week later, that number was up to 52 people.
Now, county health department spokeswoman Jeanene Fowler confirms 74 reported cases. Twenty-three of those people were hospitalized.
The outbreak only came from one Federico's location -- the one in Litchfield Park -- and health officials attribute it to a certain kind of E. coli bacteria: E. coli O157. That restaurant location voluntarily closed.
Although not every person interviewed by the county health department reported eating at the restaurant, many of them did. According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of one of the people sickened, a man named Bryan Clayton ate at the location on July 27 and 29, and was subsequently hospitalized on August 1 with "grossly bloody bouts of diarrhea."
Clayton had chicken on both occasions, first in tacos, then in a burrito, according to the lawsuit.
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The county health department says the illnesses caused by this bacteria "can cause severe illness and, especially in children, can lead to kidney failure and even death."
Food-safety law firm Marler Clark has been filing lawsuits on behalf of several people who became ill, including two children who allegedly contracted a life-threatening kidney disease as a result.