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BREAKING NEWS

Seattle-King County Public Health Dept. Closes Catering Company
Under investigaiton in food borne illness outbreak

March 15, 2018



Chronicle staff

(SEATTLE, WA.) -- The Seattle-King County Publuc Health department has announced the closure of a Puget Sound catering firm, Eric Gorbman Catering for "operating without a valid permit" and due to what it called an "imminent health hazard."

The health agency says the catering firm was ordered closed on March 8 at 3:00 pm.

In an updated statement issued March 10th the public health agency said it is investigating, "An outbreak of Shigella infection (also known as "shigellosis") associated with events at Temple Beth Am and Temple Beth Shalom in Seattle. Both events were catered by Eric Gorbman Catering with additional food items brought potluck style by attendees."

The agency says if you or someone in your family attended an event at Temple Beth Am or at Temple Beth Shalom in Seattle on March 3, 2018, please take a few minutes to complete this survey even if you did not get ill.

Comparing food histories between those who became ill and those who did not can help the agency determine what might have caused illness and prevent others from becoming sick.

"If you are currently ill with symptoms such as diarrhea (bloody or non-bloody), fever, and abdominal pain, please contact your health care provider to discuss testing and treatment options. Submitting a stool sample can help confirm if you have shigellosis," said the agency statement.

The agency says anyone ill with suspected shigellosis should not work in food handling, patient care, or childcare settings, and ill children with suspected shigellosis should not attend daycare until they have seen a healthcare provider and been tested for Shigella infection, even if their illness is mild. Persons with Shigella infection who work in or attend these sensitive settings must be cleared by Public Health before returning.

Illnesses

Since March 6, Seattle-King County Public Health has learned of at least 15 people that became ill with gastroenteritis after consuming food and beverages from the events in Seattle on March 3. One ill attendee is hospitalized.

"Additionally, we have determined that at least 2 catering employees have also reported similar illness following the event, but these employees did not report being ill while working at the event so it is likely that they were exposed at the event rather than the source of the outbreak," said the agency statement.

Public Health actions

Public Health Communicable Disease investigators are interviewing event attendees about the foods they ate and symptoms they experienced. In addition, we are working with the Washington State Department of Health to collect this information from event attendees who we are unable to interview with an online survey.

"Comparing food histories from event attendees who became ill and those who did not could help us determine what might have caused illness and prevent others from becoming sick. Investigators are also interviewing catering staff."

The agency also said its "Environmental Health team is meeting with the caterer to collect information about the food prepared at the event and food safety practices. We have reached out to the venues where the private events were held to advise them on deep cleaning procedures. The exact food or drink item that caused the illnesses has not been identified. We may never know what caused the illness because the bacteria spreads easily and multiple food items may have been contaminated."

Laboratory testing

The agency has received laboratory confirmation that one of the ill persons was infected with Shigella.

About Shigellosis

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Shigella. Most who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Some people may have no symptoms at all. Shigella usually resolves itself in 5-7 days, but recovered individuals may still spread the bacteria.
































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