The Dupage County Health Department announced on March 4, 2010 that it "is investigating the cause of a cluster of gastrointestinal illnesses primarily among customers of a Subway restaurant located at 1009 E. Roosevelt Road in Lombard. Restaurant ownership and corporate representatives have been cooperating with health officials, and the Lombard restaurant has been closed pending further results of the investigation.

We have been contacted by ten families that are likely victims of the outbreak.  We will file suit tomorrow on behalf of a young boy who ate a shigella-contaminated sandwich at the restaurant in late February and suffered a severe gastrointestinal illness as a result.  Fortunately the is recovering, but he has a ways to go. 

Many of the people we have spoken with have done what most ordinary Americans would do when suffering from a severe case of foodpoisoning, a primary symptom of which is, of course, diarrhea:  they went to the drugstore, or more likely had a friend or family member go for them, and purchased either Imodium or Lomotil in an attempt to get the diarrhea to stop. 

We are JD’s not MD’s, but many physicians will strongly discourage the use of these over-the-counter drugs while ill with a case of foodpoisoning, or virtually any kind of infectious diarrhea.  In fact, also in its March 4 press release, the Dupage County Health Department stated:

Persons who exhibit any of the symptoms of shigellosis are advised to contact their physician to arrange for appropriate testing and treatment, as indicated. Before using antidiarrheal agents such as loperamide (Imodium®) or diphenoxylate with atropine (Lomotil®), contact your physician, since antidiarrheal agents can prolong illness in persons with shigellosis, and should be avoided.

The reason is that drugs that are designed to prevent diarrhea actually inhibit the passage of disease-causing bacteria in stool.  This is one of the body’s many natural defense responses to things (e.g. bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.) that it recognizes as foreign.  It is thus a necessary, though uncomfortable, process.  The best advice, as the Dupage County Health Department notes, is to talk to your doctor.