Public health officials are investigating an apparent norovirus outbreak traced to a restaurant in Seattle. More than 20 people have reported illnesses and one has been hospitalized.
Public Health — Seattle and King County reported that the sick people ate at the Habit Burger Grill restaurant in Shoreline. Since May 24 there have been 23 people from six unrelated dining parties reported sick.
“We have not identified how norovirus was spread within the restaurant. This is not uncommon for norovirus outbreaks because the virus can spread through multiple contaminated food items, environmental surfaces, and from person to person,” according to the public health announcement.
Symptoms of norovirus include vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and chills. The sick restaurant patrons have reported experiencing such symptoms. As of June 2 no sick employees had been identified.
Environmental health investigators “visited” the restaurant on May 26, according to the health department. They did not find any risk factors that are known to contribute to the spread of norovirus. Prior to the May 26 visit, the most recent inspection was in August 2019.
For the current inspection, the restaurant was required to conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection. Investigators revisited the restaurant on May 28 and conducted onsite food safety and employee illness training with staff and reinforced cleaning, disinfection, handwashing, and no bare hand contact with ready to eat foods.
“Investigators will revisit the restaurant within two weeks to ensure ongoing compliance with proper food handling practices,” according to the county statement.
“We do not have laboratory testing for the people who got sick. Often in norovirus outbreaks, no laboratory testing is done because people tend to get better within a day or two. Symptoms among those who got sick are suggestive of norovirus.”
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