Portland Food Cart Linked to Shigellosis Outbreak Closed After Customers Get Infected

A food cart in Portland, Oregon's most populous city, was closed by the local health department after several individuals from different households were found to have shigellosis, an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called shigella. They were reported to have been infected after eating food from the venue.

The Small Pharaoh #1 food cart in downtown Portland, located at Southwest 5th Avenue and Stark Street, was ordered by the Multnomah County Health Department to close on Tuesday, Multnomah County confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

The county reported four confirmed cases and three additional presumptive cases with symptoms who have not been tested.

Those infected may experience diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Anyone with symptoms of shigellosis who ate at the downtown location of Small Pharaoh between July 27 and August 11 should contact their care provider or seek medical care as needed," the county warned.

The health department is working closely with the owner to safely reopen the venue, the county noted.

The county advised: "Shigella is a very contagious bacteria and can spread after swallowing a very small amount of the bacteria... it is spread through food, through water, or person to person by swallowing fecal matter.

"It can also lead to more severe illnesses such as sepsis and kidney injury. Local data indicate that one out of three diagnosed infections typically require hospitalization.

"Most people recover without treatment, and this particular strain is highly resistant to the most common antibiotics used to treat shigellosis," the county added.

The CDC advises: "The spread of shigella can be stopped by frequent and careful handwashing with soap and taking other hygiene measures."

There were 47 cases of shigella infection reported to the Multnomah County Health Department in 2020. In other parts of the country, shigella has caused frequent outbreaks in childcare and long-term care facilities, the county stated.

The latest closure comes amid the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak in Oregon, which has over 22,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the latest report Thursday from Johns Hopkins University.

There are currently at least 80 "active workplace outbreaks" of the coronavirus at several food and retail chains across the state, according to the latest report Wednesday by the Oregon Health Authority.

The outbreak included a total of 47 cases at two Walmart stores, 31 cases at two McDonald's restaurants, nine cases at a Home Depot store and five cases at a Taco Bell restaurant, among several other businesses, according to the report.

Portland, Oregon, street, 2012
Cars parked along Washington Street NW in Portland, Oregon, pictured on February 11, 2012. Getty Images