Salmonella cases linked to Brighton Los Amigos Taqueria on the rise
State health officials say 56 confirmed cases of salmonella have been linked to Los Amigos Taqueria. A food safety advocate thinks the real number is likely much higher.
More than 50 confirmed cases of salmonella have now been linked to the Brighton restaurant at Los Amigos Taqueria, state health officials confirmed on Friday.
The chain’s outpost in Brighton was one of two closed last week after health inspectors reported multiple issues at each restaurant; the West Roxbury Los Amigos Taqueria has also temporarily closed.
As of Friday, there were 56 lab-confirmed cases of salmonella among people who ate at Brighton Los Amigos Taqueria before falling ill, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said. Of those cases, 37 involve Boston residents.
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State health officials continue to receive additional reports of laboratory-confirmed and undiagnosed illnesses linked to the restaurant, according to DPH.
Now dozens of people who fell ill after eating at the Brighton site are planning to sue, according to Jory Lange, a Texas-based lawyer who specializes in food safety cases. He said 43 people had hired the Lange law firm to represent them in lawsuits against Los Amigos and another 27 people had asked to be represented.
Lange told Boston.com that the number of lab-confirmed cases from DPH is likely much lower than the actual number of people who got sick during the outbreak. Some people don’t seek medical attention, are misdiagnosed with food poisoning, or don’t get tested to confirm salmonella infections, he explained.
“This is a very large outbreak,” Lange said. “We help people with food poisoning [legal cases] across the country against restaurant outbreaks like this. Most of these epidemics have 10 to 20 people falling ill. This one, however, I think will have well over 100 people who got sick, and possibly hundreds of people who got sick.
Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, with symptoms usually appearing within six hours to six days after infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illness can last from 4 to 7 days.
Salmonella bacteria can spread through a variety of contaminated foods, and food handlers can also pass it on if they don’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom, according to the CDC.
Lange said he thinks poor hand washing might be to blame. He noted that the reported cases were all linked to the restaurant in Brighton and not to the other four sites in the chain, which may share food suppliers.
Suffolk Superior Court records on Friday showed three lawsuits brought against Los Amigos Taqueria over cases of salmonella allegedly contracted at the Brighton branch. Lange said his company also started hearing about people who hadn’t eaten at Los Amigos but had contracted salmonella from family members or co-workers who had.
The purpose of the lawsuits, he said, is to compensate those infected for their medical expenses and the “horrible” experience of battling salmonella food poisoning. The three lawsuits filed this week each seek “more than $50,000 in damages.”
“The second thing is that we want to get to the bottom of what happened in this outbreak, to understand what happened and how it could have been avoided, which hopefully will prevent future outbreaks,” Lange said.
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