Ixtapa reopens its doors after
being linked to E.coli cases
Snohomish Health District reports that 21 cases of the E.coli virus have been connected to the restaurant since the first case was reported on Oct. 7.
“The current count is 18 of 21 sick people linked to the restaurant by having eaten food there,” Snohomish Health District spokesperson Suzanne Pate said. “One of the original cases was discovered to be a ‘secondary’ case who had not consumed food there but was in close contact with someone who had.”
Ixtapa has been in business in Lake Stevens for over 17 years and has never had any problems with the health and safety of the restaurant, owner Francisco Barajas said.
The Barajas family has lived in Lake Stevens for decades and raised children in this community, a community they love and support on a constant basis.
“We donate to churches, sponsoring sports teams and all community sports including the high school,” Eddie Barajas, the owner’s son and Manager of the restaurant said.
“We worry about the community, you never want something like this to happen,” Francisco said.
While the Health District may not ever know exactly where the E.coli came from, they are quick to point out that the Barajas have been nothing but open and helpful throughout the entire investigation.
“We might never discover what specific food caused the outbreak,” Pate said. “The menu offers many entrees and side dishes and a fair number of those use combinations of ingredients in various measures per recipe. Epidemiologically, we are hunting for a needle in a haystack.”
The Barajas have thrown out everything from food to silverware, in hopes of stopping any further contamination.
“We’ve been doing everything they’ve (the Health District) has asked us to do,” Alfredo Barajas said. “We’ve been in contact with the Health District for over a week.”
“We want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem,” Eddie explained.
Concern for their ill customers has been weighing heavily on their minds, but they have seen great support from the community since reopening their doors last Thursday.
“We have been thinking about the people who have gotten ill in our prayers,” Alfredo said. “Since we have reopened a lot of people in the community have come in to eat and support us including firefighters, police officers, business owners and our regular customers. We have even better service and better food than we had before.”
One of the E.coli patients, a Lake Stevens resident, found out that he had the bacteria after showing up at the emergency room.
“He realized that he had E.coli after a phone call from the Everett Clinic lab to my cell phone while we were in the Emergency Room at Providence’s Colby campus,” his wife said. “The lab called my cell with the result which immediately bought us a ticket into a private room, due to his ‘communicable’ disease status.”
This family says that both the Snohomish Health District and Ixtapa have been very receptive to their needs and have handled the situation in an extremely professional manner.
“We would like Lake Stevens to know that we commend the quick work of the Snohomish County Health Department in locating the source of the outbreak,” she said. “We applaud Ixtapa for cooperating with authorities immediately so that no further public risk was made and we hope that all those affected recover without any long term health problems because of it. The Ixtapa restaurant has been a vital and generous fixture of the Lake Stevens community for many, many years. We hope that nothing like this ever happens in our community again.”
The Barajas are working hard to see that it doesn’t.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Eddie said.
Patients ranging in age from nine years old to 75 years old have been infected with the bacteria. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea and stomach cramping with little or no fever.
For more information on E.coli and the recent outbreak you can visit www.snohd.org.