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Suspected Norovirus at Milton Lodge

Communications Specialist Steve Metcalf
by Steve Metcalf08/13/2018 3:37 p.m.
Updated: 01/04/2019

Update Aug. 23

We found norovirus in customers who said they ate at the Milton Lodge. Two of the eight customers who got sick tested positive. They ate at the restaurant between Aug. 6-9.

Norovirus tests for four restaurant employees were negative. How the virus spread to the customers is unclear, but the only thing they have in common is they dined at the Milton Lodge during the outbreak period.

The customers may have gotten sick with norovirus in one of three ways:

  • Employees other than those we identified for testing may have been sick and exposed customer.
  • The employees we tested may have been ill and exposed customers, but when we tested the employees they weren’t sick and the virus was undetectable.
  • A customer could have brought the virus into the restaurant before the outbreak (Aug. 6) then employees brought the virus into the kitchen and contaminated the food. This would have happened through inadequate handwashing and bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods like vegetables, bread, and cheese. 

During a routine inspection Aug. 10—three days before we received the first illness report—we cited the restaurant for bare hand contact with food and inadequate handwashing, violations of sections 02310 and 03300(2) of the Washington State Retail Food Code. The restaurant also had no gloves for employees to use.

The use of gloves and utensils for food handling and proper handwashing are effective ways to prevent the spread of disease at food establishments and at home. Learn more about safe food practices for consumers.

Because we are no longer getting illness reports from this outbreak, this will be our last regular update.

Update Aug. 17

Eight customers now report they got ill after they ate at the Milton Lodge. That’s an increase from 4 in our last update. The customers said they ate at the restaurant on different days:

  • Aug. 6—1.
  • Aug. 7—6.
  • Aug. 9—1.

All got ill with norovirus-like symptoms 24-36 hours after they dined.

Our disease investigation into the outbreak continues. Customers who ate at the Milton Lodge and became ill should contact the Health Department at food@tpchd.org, report your illness online, or call (253) 798-4712.

Update Aug. 14

The Health Department cleared the Milton Lodge to reopen around 1 p.m. today. Employees met the required pre-opening steps to clean and sanitize the restaurant. We closed the Milton Lodge yesterday afternoon because customers reported norovirus-like illness after they ate there.

Since our last report, another customer has reported getting ill after dining at the restaurant. The total of ill customers is now 4. Here’s a breakdown of when they ate at the restaurant:

  • 1 customer (new case) Aug. 6.
  • 3 customers Aug. 7.

We now know all came down with symptoms 24-36 hours after they dined. This timeframe for the onset of symptoms is consistent with norovirus.

Our disease investigation continues. Customers who ate at the Milton Lodge and became ill should contact the Health Department at food@tpchd.org, report your illness online, or call (253) 798-4712.

Original Post Aug. 13

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is working with the Milton Lodge Bar and Grill, 7320 Pacific Hwy. E., Milton, on a suspected norovirus outbreak. The Health Department closed the restaurant today around 2 p.m. for at least 24 hours so employees can clean and sanitize the food establishment to ensure the public is no longer at risk of getting ill.

Customers who ate at the Milton Lodge and became ill should contact the Health Department at food@tpchd.org, report your illness online, or call (253) 798-4712.

Three people from two separate households reported norovirus-like symptoms after they ate at the restaurant Aug. 7. Their symptoms started 24-48 hours later.

Norovirus is highly contagious. It can cause diarrhea and vomiting, often at the same time. Symptoms typically last one-two days. It is the same virus often related to cruise ship outbreaks.

In addition to thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the restaurant, staff will throw out all ready-to-eat foods like vegetables, bread, and cheese. We are interviewing restaurant employees to determine if any of them were ill and worked during the time customers got sick.

The state’s Paid Sick Leave Law means food workers don’t have to face financially hardship when they take time off from work to care of their health. Learn more about paid sick leave on the Labor and Industries website

Cleaning for norovirus

Clean vomit or diarrhea accidents immediately.

Step 1. Remove vomit or poop.

  • Pick up the chunks with paper towels or other disposable material.
  • Soak up liquids with absorbent materials. Use kitty litter or dry oatmeal for carpeted areas.
  • Double bag and discard.
  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner.

Step 2. Sanitize.

  • Disinfect hard surfaces using 1 2/3 cups of household bleach per gallon of water. Allow for 1 minute of contact time.
  • Sanitize all handles and knobs in your house with the bleach solution.
  • Linens (including clothing, towels, napkins): Wash separately in hot water and dry on high.
  • Steam clean carpets using the highest setting for heat.
  • Avoid cross-contamination (use separate sanitation cloths for bathroom and other surfaces).
  • Clean and disinfect all containers used (e.g., buckets).

Handwashing

Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Especially after cleaning, restroom use and before eating.

If you ate at the Milton Lodge and became ill, contact the Health Department at food@tpchd.org, report online, or call (253) 798-4712.

Learn more about norovirus and sign up for restaurant closures.

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  1. Updated: 01/04/2019
  2. Updated: 01/03/2019
  3. Updated: 08/23/2018
  4. Updated: 08/17/2018
  5. Updated: 08/14/2018
Communications Specialist Steve Metcalf

by Steve Metcalf

Steve helps share timely and relevant public health information.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.