King County’s Public Health is investigating an outbreak of norovirus-like illnesses with vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and chills at a Seattle area restaurant.

Public Health has not yet 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, microscopic particles in the air, and from person to person, the department reported Aug. 11.

The WildFin American Grill in Renton, immediately south of Seattle, is the facility officials have identified.

Illnesses


Since Aug. 2, 10 people from three meal parties reported becoming ill after consuming food from WildFin American Grill on July 29.

One ill employee has been identified so far who experienced symptoms consistent with norovirus dating back to Aug. 4, 2021, but who did not work while contagious. Further investigation is ongoing.

Public Health actions


Environmental Health investigators visited the restaurant on Aug. 5. Improper food handling practices that could contribute to the spread of norovirus, including insufficient temperatures for the dishwashing machine, improper handwashing were observed, inadequate use of barriers to prevent bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, and risk of cross-contamination.

The restaurant closed on Aug. 5 to complete a thorough cleaning and disinfection. All ready-to-eat foods processed before the restaurant was disinfected were discarded.

Environmental Health investigators revisited the restaurant and confirmed proper cleaning and disinfection was completed and that the observed improper food handling practices were corrected. The restaurant was reopened on Aug. 6, 2021.

Investigators reviewed with restaurant management the requirement that ill staff are 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.

Laboratory testing


Public Health does 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.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Read More