LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ - Maricopa County health officials are continuing to investigate a bloody diarrhea outbreak they say is linked to Federico's Mexican Restaurant in Litchfield Park.
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health announced Thursday that 52 people have been sickened, and of those, 18 have been or are currently hospitalized.
Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Departments of Public Health, previously told ABC15 a few of the patients have experienced renal failure.
The Maricopa County Environmental Service Department responded to these reports by inspecting the facility immediately and taking food samples.
"The restaurant has been extremely cooperative with our investigation. In fact, out of an abundance of caution and concern for their customers, the restaurant is voluntarily closing," said Steven Goode, deputy director for MCESD.
Laboratory results indicate the bacteria causing the illness is E. coli O157.
This bacteria produces a toxin that can cause severe illness and, especially in children, can lead to kidney failure and even death.
In these cases, the most prominent sign of the illness is bloody stool.
Anyone who has eaten at this particular Federico's Mexican Food Restaurant on or after July 23 and is experiencing bloody diarrhea should seek medical attention.
This is the only Federico's location where many of the patients have reported eating, England said.
The restaurant voluntarily closed for 72 hours for a deep cleaning and to remove all of the food, said investigators.
The investigation remains ongoing to determine the specific source.