87-year-old linked to Miguel’s Cocina E. coli outbreak dies

SAN DIEGO — An 87-year-old man with multiple pre-existing conditions who ate at Miguel’s Cocina in 4S Ranch during the E. coli outbreak died last month, county health officials confirmed.

The man, identified as John Christ Ferber, passed away on Oct. 26, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office. Further details about his death were not disclosed by county officials.

It marks the first death due to the outbreak at the popular Mexican chain restaurant that hospitalized 10 people and infected at least 25 others. Those who fell ill reported eating at the location between Oct. 6 and Oct. 18.

A county investigation into the specific food items that were the source of the outbreak at the restaurant remains ongoing. After a 10-day voluntary closure, however, the 4S Ranch location of Miguel’s Cocina was reopened on Saturday, Nov. 4.

Prior to resuming business, the county told FOX 5 that the restaurant had undergone extensive measures to ensure that it was up to food safety codes, including disinfecting, the replacement of all food stored in the kitchen and administering additional food handler training to staff.

All personnel were cleared to return to work and no ongoing risks were identified before its reopening, county officials added.

“Very young children and elderly people can be more susceptible to this and that could be because their immune system may be developing in younger people and in older adults their immune systems may not be as protected,” said Dr. Abisola Olulade, family medicine and chief impact officer with Sharp Rees-Stealy.

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Olulade explained that E. coli can cause severe symptoms.

“The way it tends to happen is, unfortunately, through an infection that can go in the blood stream, it can lead to the kidneys shutting down,” Olulade said. “It’s treated with antibiotics, but a lot of people don’t necessarily realize that they have it and unfortunately this can cause these severe issues. The important thing is to make sure that we prevent it, so the best way is by handwashing and cooking food to the right temperatures.”

As a result of the outbreak, two lawsuits have been filed against the parent company of Miguel’s Cocina, Brigantine Restaurants. Attorney Ron Simon is representing 15 of the 35 people who experienced an infection and their families in the litigation.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to that family, the unfortunate thing is this is totally unnecessary,” Simon said.

As the investigation into what caused the outbreak continues at the county level, Simon said he has a list of what some of the diners ate prior to contracting E. Coli.

“My law firm by virtue of representing all these families has a unique data set that nobody but the Health Department has, and that’s exactly what each of the victims ate, and in this case, all of the victims ate different things and that means there was massive cross contamination in the kitchen at Miguels,” Simon added.

FOX 5 has reached out to Brigantine Corporation for comment and is awaiting a response.

No additional information was immediately available.

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