Maricopa County health officials are investigating a bloody diarrhea outbreak in the West Valley they say are linked to Federico’s Mexican Restaurant in Litchfield Park.

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health announced Thursday there are now 52 reported cases in a bloody diarrhea outbreak with 18 people hospitalized.

A few of the patients are experiencing renal failure, said Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Departments of Public Health.

Laboratory results indicate the bacteria causing the illness are E. coli O157:H7.

This bacterium 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.

It is important for health care providers to be aware of this outbreak because treating children with antibiotics for these bacteria can increase the risk of serious consequences. Providers who have patients who they suspect may be related to this outbreak should order a stool culture and contact MCDPH’s disease reporting line at 602-747-7500.