Seattle-King County Public Health is investigating an outbreak of norovirus-like illness with vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, chills, and fever associated with Dave & Buster’s in Auburn, WA.

Since April 5, 2019, five people from a single meal party reported becoming ill after consuming food and beverages from Dave & Buster’s in Auburn on March 31, 2019.  Since then public health identified at least seven employees who also experienced symptoms consistent with norovirus dating back to March 21, 2019.

At least one employee worked while ill with norovirus-like symptoms. None of the 12 cases of apparent norovirus required hospitalization and no deaths are involved. The investigation is ongoing.

Dave & Buster’s is located at 1101 Outlet Collection Way SW, Ste 1057 in Auburn, which is in South King County. Dave & Buster’s has maintained an excellent licensing and inspection record with King County.

Public health has not been able to identify how norovirus was spread within the restaurant. Norovirus can spread through contaminated food items, environmental surfaces, and from person to person.

Public Health Actions

Environmental Health investigators visited the restaurant on April 5, 2019, and learned of multiple ill employees. Investigators also learned of customers sickened at the restaurant on March 30, 2019, including a customer who vomited in the play area and one that vomited in a restroom, potentially contaminating these areas with norovirus. Investigators observed that the restaurant’s cleaning solution was not adequate to kill norovirus on surfaces.

The restaurant is working cooperatively with Public Health; they closed on April 5, 2019, and remained closed through the weekend for a thorough cleaning and disinfection. All ready-to-eat foods processed before the restaurant was disinfected were discarded.

Investigators reviewed the requirement that ill staff is not allowed to work until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours and provided education about preventing the spread of norovirus — including proper handwashing and preventing bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. Restaurant management was also given guidance for the use of appropriate disinfection agents against norovirus.

Investigators revisited the restaurant on April 6, 2019, to ensure appropriate cleaning and disinfection had been started and to gather more details about employee illnesses. Investigators reviewed the requirement with restaurant management and staff that ill staff is not allowed to return to work until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

A third visit to the restaurant was conducted on April 8, 2019, to confirm cleaning and disinfection was completed appropriately. Investigators also did training for restaurant staff on proper food-handling practices, highlighting correct handwashing and preventing bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.

The restaurant will be allowed to reopen on April 8, 2019, at 5:00 pm.

Laboratory testing

Public Health does not have laboratory results for the people who got sick. Often in norovirus outbreaks, no laboratory testing is done. Symptoms among those who got ill are suggestive of norovirus.

About norovirus

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that frequently spreads person-to-person and is often associated with food. Norovirus illness usually has a sudden onset of nausea and vomiting and/or watery diarrhea with cramps. A low-grade fever, chills, and body aches sometimes occur.

Norovirus rarely causes severe complications. Dehydration is the most common complication, particularly among young children and the elderly. No vaccine is available for norovirus.


General advice for reducing the risk of contracting norovirus:

  • Wash hands, cutting boards, and counters used for food preparation immediately after use to avoid cross-contaminating other foods.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing any food or eating
  • Wait at least 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea before preparing any food for others.
    More information about norovirus

Public Health is one of the larger health units in the country, serving about 2.1 million people in Washington State’s largest county.

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