A norovirus outbreak among restaurant patrons in the Seattle-King County area of Washington has been reported.

The public health department reported on June 9 that 13 people from one meal party came down ill with symptoms of the virus after eating at Mazatlan Restaurant in Auburn, WA. The people dined at the restaurant on May 21.

“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 a statement from the public health department.

“Environmental health investigators visited the restaurant on May 26. Investigators did not find any risk factors that are known to contribute to the spread of norovirus. The restaurant closed voluntarily to conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection. Investigators will revisit the restaurant within two weeks to ensure ongoing compliance with proper food handling practices.”

The health agency has not found any employees who were exhibiting signs of infection during the implicated time frame.

As often occurs with norovirus outbreaks, the department does not have any laboratory testing results related to the situation. Generally patients recover within two to three days so testing is unusual, according to the health department statement.

“Symptoms among those who got sick are suggestive of norovirus,” according to the statement. Those symptoms are severe vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and chills. 

Prior to the outbreak investigation, inspectors most recently checked the restaurant in February 2020. A routine inspection on Feb. 7, 2020, showed high-risk violations for:

  • Failure to keep raw meats below and away from ready to eat food;
  • Failure to meet proper reheating procedures for hot holding;
  • Failure to maintain proper barriers to prevent bare hand contact with ready to eat foods;
  • Failure to keep nonfood contact surfaces maintained and clean; and
  • Failure to properly use, store and sanitize wiping clothes.

A followup inspection on Feb. 29, 2020, showed all violations had been resolved. 

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