King County Public Health officials are investigating an outbreak of suspected norovirus at a Bellevue restaurant.
On Dec. 26, 2017, Public Health officials learned five people from a meal party at Wild Ginger in Bellevue became ill after consuming food and beverage from the restaurant on Dec. 22. Public Health also identified four employees who experienced similar symptoms on Dec. 21.
Those affected experienced gastroenteritis with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Public Health officials said they do not have laboratory confirmation of the pathogen responsible for the illness but suspect it to be norovirus due to the symptoms presented.
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that frequently spreads person-to-person and is often associated with food. The norovirus illness often has a sudden onset of nausea and vomiting and/or watery diarrhea with cramps. A low-grade fever, chills, and body aches sometimes occur. Although it can rarely cause severe complications, dehydration is common. No vaccine is available.
The exact food or beverage consumed that caused the outbreak has not been identified. Public Health officials say it is not uncommon for multiple foods or beverages to be contaminated.
Environmental Health investigators visited the restaurant on Dec. 26. During the field visit, investigators did not identify any risk factors that could contribute to the spread of norovirus, however, they did observe other violations related to improper hot and cold holding of foods. The restaurant is working cooperatively with Public Health and began a thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the restaurant that same day.
Environmental Health investigators revisited the restaurant on Dec. 27 to ensure that proper cleaning and sanitizing of the restaurant was completed and that all violations had been corrected. They visited one last time on Dec. 29 to make sure ill staff were not working while they were sick, as they’re required to remain out until they are symptom-free for 48 hours.
Prevent norovirus outbreak:
1. Wash hands, cutting boards, and counters used for food preparation immediately after use to avoid cross contaminating other foods.
2. Wash hands thoroughly with soap after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing any food or eating.
3. Wait at least 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea before preparing any food for others.