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E. Coli Outbreak Tied To Bridgeport Restaurant Sickens 25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- At least 25 people became sick from E. coli after recently eating at a popular Bridgeport restaurant.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said Carbón Live Fire Mexican Grill, at 300 W. 26th St., shut down voluntarily and was cooperating with the city, after an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) was traced back to the restaurant.

At least 25 people became ill, and five people were hospitalized as a result of the outbreak. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of a STEC infection include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. A fever also is possible, but it is usually less than 101˚F/38.5˚C. Most patients recover within 5-7 days, but some cases can be severe, or even life-threatening.

Public health officials said antibiotics and anti-diarrheal medication should not be used to treat a STEC infection, as they could make the symptoms worse.

The city was recommending anyone who recently ate at Carbón and is suffering from symptoms from STEC should see a doctor for testing.

"This is a serious condition that is treatable," said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. "Anyone who believes they may be symptomatic and ate at this restaurant should see their medical provider immediately. CDPH is taking every precaution as part of our robust response in order to limit the impact of this outbreak."

It was not immediately clear when the first cases of E. coli linked to Carbón were reported.

Maria Loparco spoke to CBS 2 from her hospital bed. She says she had two steak tacos last weekend before falling ill.

"I had non-stop diarrhea and there was blood in my stool. I had horrible, horrible pains in my stomach," she says.

Thursday night, she tested positive for E. coli.

Dr. Allison Bartlett of University of Chicago Medicine says it's a particularly virulent strain. In worst-case scenarios, patients can get progressively sick and suffer from kidney failure.

But the good news is that most patients have been treated as outpatients and have gone home, she says.

City records show Carbón has passed every city health inspection since 2010, including four prompted by complaints. Details of those complaints were not immediately available.

Patrons who had hoped to eat at the restaurant were disappointed to be turned away Friday.

"I'm really surprised. We come here very often," Julia Burns tells CBS 2's Sandra Torres.

Later Friday, health officials announced Carbón was pulling out of the Taste of Chicago to focus on efforts to reopen the restaurant and correct any problems.


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