An estimated 200 people have reported symptoms of norovirus following a catered event held Tuesday, Dec. 1, at a downtown Seattle office tower. Two people were hospitalized and eight were treated at local emergency rooms. City health officials reportedly closed all food vendors operating at the building while the investigation continues. Approximately 600 people were at the Dec. 1 event held in the cafeteria at the Russell Investments Center, 1301 Second Ave., in downtown Seattle. (Marler Clark, the food safety law firm which publishes Food Safety News, is located there.)

Russell Investments Center
The Russell Investments Center in downtown Seattle.
To date, 150 people have completed a survey from Public Health – Seattle & King County noting symptoms of norovirus, and another 50 people directly contacted the local health agency. “We anticipate that that number is likely low,” said Dr. Meagan Kay, a medical epidemiologist with the department. Along with Marler Clark, Zillow, an online real estate database firm, is also a tenant in the Russell Investments Center. The entire building was reportedly cleaned over this past weekend. Bill Marler said that nobody was ill at his law firm so far. “Norovirus is really super tough,” he noted. (Marler is the publisher of Food Safety News.) Caterer for the event was Bon Appetit Management Co. of Palo Alto, CA. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the U.S. and the most common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks. The best way to avoid it is to maintain cleanliness and follow proper hand-washing practices, CDC stated.

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