Outbreak that sickened 10 diners forces Washington restaurant to close, officials say


A Washington restaurant was shut down after 10 diners reported falling ill, health officials said.

The people reported getting a gastrointestinal illness after dining at the Tamarind Tree, Public Health - Seattle & King County said in a Thursday, Jan. 26, news release

The diners ate at the Vietnamese restaurant in Little Saigon, Seattle's Chinatown International District, on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16, the county health department said. They were part of three different parties, officials said.

After eating at the restaurant, customers experienced vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, fevers and chills, the agency said. No employees reported being sick.

Some of the diners were tested and those results are pending, but investigators said they believe their symptoms suggest it was a bacterial illness.

McClatchy News reached out to the restaurant for comment on Jan. 27 and was awaiting a response.

Health investigators conducted a routine inspection on Jan. 18 and found employees touching ready-to-eat food with bare hands, which could cause a foodborne illness outbreak, officials said.

Investigators went back to the restaurant on Jan. 24 and shut it down after finding "improper food handling practices, including blocked access to handwashing facilities, improper storage of wiping cloths, risk of cross contamination, and lack of maintenance, cleaning, and sanitizing of food equipment and physical facilities."

Tamarind Tree was forced to close until employees cleaned the place, the agency said.

Investigators told management that sick staff had to be symptom-free for 48 hours before returning to work. They also reviewed information with employees about preventing the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses.

There are several types of bacteria that can cause sickness, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli and Shigella.

Every year, about 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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