Public health officials in Seattle are investigating a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than two dozen residents of a long-term care facility.

“Based on the investigation, this outbreak was likely due to contaminated food served at the facility,” according to an outbreak announcement this afternoon from Public Health Seattle & King County. The department did not report what food was involved.

The public health department has identified 29 people as outbreak patients. Six of them have had to be admitted to hospitals, but no one has died. The outbreak has concluded, according to the health department

Illness onsets appear to have been July 1 through July 5. No ill food workers were identified as patients as of today. The public health department said the facility is not typically open to the public.

On July 3, Washington Care Center reported the outbreak to Public Health. Public Health provided education to facility staff to prevent further spread of illness. This education included the importance of handwashing and effective cleaning and sanitation, as well as recommending sick residents and staff isolate until symptom-free for at least 24 hours. The facility stopped communal activities and dining from July 3 to July 7.

On July 11, 2023, Public Health, Washington State Department of Health (DOH), and Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) visited the facility. Public Health conducted interviews with both sick and well people at the facility to identify potential common exposures. 

The DOH inspected the kitchen and identified risk factors that could contribute to the spread of Salmonella, including potential cross-contamination, inadequate handwashing, and improper glove use. DSHS, which regulates Washington State long-term care facilities like Washington Care Center, conducted its own investigation and provided education to Washington Care Center staff.

Eight of the 29 people who became sick had confirmatory testing indicating infections with Salmonella. Seven of the eight confirmed cases had the same strain of Salmonella, based on genetic fingerprinting (whole genome sequencing, or WGS) at the Washington State Public Health Laboratory. The eighth confirmed case did not have WGS testing done.

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