"Bloody Diarrhea Outbreak" From Federico's Mexican Food Sickened 74 People, Officials Say

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.

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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.

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.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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