Laboratory testing has shown that dozens of people have Salmonella infections linked to two Mexican restaurants in Boston.
There are now 45 confirmed patients, up from 33 earlier this week, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Patients report eating at Los Amigos Mexican Grill taquerias in Brighton Center and West Roxbury. Of the 45 confirmed patients, 29 are from Boston. Additional illnesses have been reported but have not yet been confirmed with lab tests.
The two restaurants have been closed by authorities who have cited health code violations. The Los Amigos Mexican Grill taquerias in Brighton Center and West Roxbury have also had their permits to operate temporarily suspended.
“We encourage residents who visited the Brighton location between May 12 and May 18 to monitor themselves for symptoms of Salmonella infection, including fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and to contact a healthcare provider for an evaluation and testing if appropriate,” a health department spokesperson said.
Salmonella is a reportable disease so public health officials should be notified of any patients.
Health inspectors report finding “visible soils,” “mold-like substances” and rodent droppings.
At the West Roxbury restaurant, inspectors found “no verifiable evidence of illness policy training,” and no one was in charge of monitoring food temperatures. They said “Only one employee properly washed hands between tasks,” and a spatula was found stored in stagnant water.
“Multiple rodent droppings on pineapple cans, a bag of pinto beans, beverage single-use holders, on storage tables and floor (were found),” their report states.
Health officials have not said when they will reinstate the restaurants’ licenses.
According to city inspection reports, one of six identified failures included “multiple reports of a foodborne illness from items consumed at this location. . . Samples were taken of implicated items, and cooled/stored under refrigeration. All food items have been embargoed. Owner has been instructed not to handle any food items at this time without approval from the Health Division.”
On Jan. 13 the West Roxbury location was cited for multiple violations, including chicken held at the wrong temperature, which can result in pathogen growth.
About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.
Anyone who has eaten at the implicated restaurants and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.
Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.