FIRESTONE, Colo. -- A potentially deadly disease you rarely hear about in the U.S. is linked to a northern Colorado Qdoba restaurant. Weld County health officials said at least three people came down with typhoid fever after eating at the Mexican restaurant chain in Firestone.
“The fevers were so bad that when he had the fever, he would get a sharp shooting pain in his head and then it would go down the spine and so we thought, is this a tumor? We just didn’t know,” Chelsea Incorvaia told FOX31 Denver.
Incorvaia's husband Ryan was sick for more than a month. He spent six days in the hospital where doctors determined he was infected with typhoid fever.
“Everyone was like, typhoid fever? How did he get that?” she said.
Ryan Incorvaia has recovered but was out of town on business when Weld County health officials alerted the community about the small outbreak. His wife said she is still worried about the disease.
“It was scary because then you’re thinking somebody is carrying this and spreading it,” she said.
Two other people in northern Colorado also came down with the disease around the same time. Health officials figured out they all ate at Qdoba in Firestone.
“They did find that one of the food handlers there had tested positive,” Weld County Department of Public Health spokesman Eric Aakko said.
That worker never showed symptoms and likely did not know he or she had typhoid fever. The bacteria lives in intestines and bloodstream. Most people contract it after traveling to a developing country where the disease is more common.
It is usually spread through water contaminated with sewage. In this case, health officials believe the worker spread the bacteria onto the food by not washing his or her hands after using the bathroom.
The symptoms of typhoid fever include a fever up to 104 degrees, weakness, stomach pains, headaches and loss of appetite. Some people develop a rash with flat, rose-colored spots
“It’s pretty crazy to think you can get that from eating Qdoba,” Chelsea Incorvaia said.
The manager of the Qdoba restaurant could not comment. He said to contact the chain's corporate team, which did not provide a statement. The staff member who tested positive is no longer working at the restaurant.
Health officials said they believe the small outbreak might already be over.
“The risks to the general public are very, very low,” Aakko said.
If you ate at the Firestone Qdoba recently and think you may have symptoms of typhoid fever, talk to your doctor.