Maricopa County Officials Say There's a "Bloody Diarrhea Outbreak"

Here's something that sounds horrifying: Maricopa County health officials say there's a "bloody diarrhea outbreak" in the West Valley.

Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, says the 11 people who have reported this illness know each other.

UPDATE: The bloody diarrhea has been linked to Federico's Mexican Food. Check out the new information below.

Seven of those people have been hospitalized, and health officials aren't exactly sure what's causing this. Officials say they don't have a more precise location of the outbreak than just the West Valley.

"The illness appears to be caused by a class of bacteria that produces a toxin," says a release from the county health department. "This toxin can cause severe illness and, especially in children, can lead to kidney failure and even death."

The health department's recommending that you get some medical help if you've got the main symptom here.

"As of this morning, we know that we have a cluster of people who are sick with this type of bacteria and who all know each other," Dr. England says in a statement. "Disease investigators are now trying to piece together the puzzle of how/what made these people sick and if anyone else was put at risk. Of course, as we discover this information, we will continue to share what we know with the public."

UPDATE 2:54 p.m.: The source of the bloody diarrhea is food from Federico's Mexican Food, according to health officials.

"Just to be clear, it is only this one Federico's establishment where many of the cases have reported eating or purchasing food," Dr. England says."The investigation remains ongoing and we have all hands on deck to figure out the specific source."

The Federico's location in question is in Litchfield Park, and the particular bacteria causing the illness is E. coli O157.

According to the county health department, "Anyone who has eaten at this particular Federico's Mexican Food from on or after July 23 AND is experiencing bloody diarrhea should see a healthcare provider so a stool culture can be ordered. Options for people without a health care provider include urgent care centers or community health centers."
On a somewhat lighter note, the only the time we've seen a similar outbreak was in the Stephen King book (and eventual movie) Dreamcatcher, although that involved aliens shooting out of people's rear ends, so we can probably rule that out.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley