County health officials have forced a downtown food cart to close after tracing the outbreak of an infectious disease to the business. It's a cart that has been in the news before.
The Multnomah County Health Department announced this afternoon that several cases of the food-borne illness shingellosis have been linked to the Small Pharaoh cart at Southwest Stark Street and 5th Avenue. Officials have ordered the restaurant to shut down immediately, a move the agency classified in a press release as "unusual."
Shingellosis is spread through food, water and consumption of fecal matter and is marked by diarrhea, fever and cramps. Though many people recover without treatment, this particular strain is "highly resistant" to antibiotics, officials say. The disease can lead to further illnesses, including sepsis and kidney problems.
Four people in separate homes are confirmed to have contracted the disease after eating at the cart, according to the health department, with three other presumptive cases awaiting testing. Authorities are encouraging anyone with symptoms to contact the health department at 503-988-3406.
Although the agency notes that this is the first health-related food cart closure in Multnomah County "in many years," Small Pharaoh has been in the news for other reasons recently.
In 2018, owner Islam El Masry was arrested after an eyewitness filmed him calling a Black female customer racial slurs and assaulting her with a bottle of Gatorade and chile sauce. The case was settled out of court.
In February, El Masry was again accused of slurring another Black customer. In that instance, El Masry filed a police report against the patron for throwing a Gatorade bottle at him.
Health officials say they are working with El Masry in order to safely reopen the cart.