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SF Nordstrom Café Food Worker May Have Spread Typhoid Fever

Update Date: May 06, 2013 09:59 AM EDT

Residents of and visitors to San Francisco may want to get tested for typhoid fever if they paid a recent visit to the Nordstrom Café at an area mall. An employee there, who worked as a line cook at the café, was recently found to have typhoid fever and may have contaminated food at his workplace.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, customers who are at risk are those who visited the establishment at the Stonestown Galleria on April 16, 17, 18, 20 and 27. Those are the days on which the employee worked at the restaurant and may have been contagious. Reports indicate that the employee displayed symptoms while at work.

"It is not highly transmissible but it can be transmitted through food that's been touched by someone whose had an infection if it's been contaminated," Dr. Susan Philip, from the San Francisco Health Department, said to KGO-TV San Francisco. "So because of that, we're letting the public know...[The] majority of people do not progress to very serious illness. Although in some cases people can become very sick without treatment and potentially die."

According to NBC Bay Area, the employee likely received typhoid fever while traveling internationally. Though typhoid fever is relatively uncommon in the United States, affecting only about 5,000 people a year, it is more prevalent in developing nations. In total, 21.5 million people have typhoid fever each year and, of those cases in the United States, 75 percent of them are transmitted while traveling internationally.

Nordstrom has issued a statement about the event, saying, "Our hope is that anyone who visited our Nordstrom Café during the days of possible exposure and has been experiencing symptoms will get tested.

We've made arrangements with two clinics that will provide this testing at no cost: The Franciscan Treatment Room - (415) 353-6305 and Dr. Meenakshi Jain at the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation - (415)-731-6300. This is the first time we've experienced this type of situation and we apologize for any concern or angst this has caused."

Typhoid fever, which is caused by the Salmonella typhi bacterium, can be prevented by boiling, cooking and peeling foods - or otherwise discarding them if they are in question. It is treated with antibiotics. Symptoms include weakness, stomach pains, decreased appetite and rash.

Though the illness is generally manageable now, typhoid fever is believed to be behind many outbreaks in history. Ancient Greece was believed to be plagued by the disease, and Jamestown colony may have been destroyed by it. New York was besieged by typhoid fever in the late 19th century, an outbreak blamed on food worker Mary Mallon, nicknamed Typhoid Mary.

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