For members of the news media
Phone: (253) 798-2853
Cell: (253) 405-6822
Fax: (253) 798-7627
Phone: (253) 798-6540
Cell: (253) 345-8238
Fax: (253) 798-7627
Update on Norovirus Outbreak at Two Pierce County Restaurants
TACOMA, Wash.—Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has identified new cases of norovirus, bringing the total number from the outbreak at two El Toro Restaurants to 434. The Tacoma location, 5716 N. 26th St., has 423 cases. The restaurant in University Place, 3820 Bridgeport Way W., has 11.
Both restaurants closed for a thorough cleaning and sanitizing, a Health Department requirement for outbreaks like this. They have since reopened. Reports from people who say they got sick after dining at the restaurants have slowed down.
“Norovirus is highly contagious and is more common in cold weather months,” said Katie Lott, food and community safety program manager. “The best thing people can do to protect themselves and keep the virus from spreading is wash their hands frequently and stay home when they’re sick,” she said.
The outbreak started at the restaurant in Tacoma’s Westgate neighborhood. The Health Department closed the restaurant Jan. 8 after receiving the first reports of illness. The Department worked with the restaurant to ensure it was thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before it reopened Jan. 9. On Jan. 11, the Department received confirmation from the state’s Public Health Laboratories that a customer who ate at the Tacoma restaurant during the onset period tested positive for norovirus.
On Jan. 10, the Health Department received illness reports from diners who ate at the El Toro Restaurant in University Place. The restaurant followed the same protocol and closed for cleaning and sanitizing. It reopened on Jan. 11.
Two staff members at the Tacoma location worked while ill during the time customers dined and later got sick. It’s still unclear if the outbreaks at the two locations are connected.
“Because of the nature of norovirus outbreaks, we may never know the exact affected items that caused illness,” Lott said. “All the cases have dining at the El Toro Restaurants in common,” she said.
Learn more about norovirus at www.tpchd.org/norovirus. We have been providing updates on our blog. If we have new information on this investigation, we will post it to our blog Tuesday, Jan. 16. Find our blog at www.tpchd.org/blog.
About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. We are one of only 163 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.