Indian food restaurant at center of Salmonella outbreak investigation

Public Health in King County, Washington is investigating an outbreak of salmonellosis (caused by Salmonella bacteria) associated with South Indian cuisine from Chile to Seattle. The investigation is ongoing.

“At this time, we have not identified how Salmonella spread through the restaurant,” public health said. He says it’s not uncommon because Salmonella can spread through contaminated food, environmental surfaces and from person to person.

Diseases

Since October 6, 2022, three people from two separate meals have reported becoming ill after consuming food from Chili’s South Indian Cuisine in Seattle on September 17, 2022 and September 23, 2022. All people developed one or more symptoms consistent with salmonellosis, including diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. No employee fell ill.

Public Health conducted interviews with people with salmonellosis to identify potential common exposures and found that they all became ill after eating foods from Chile’s South Indian cuisine.

Environmental health investigators visited the restaurant on October 19, 2022. Investigators identified sanitization issues, potential cross-contamination, inadequate handwashing, and a lack of adequate access to handwashing stations. Corrective actions were taken during the inspection. Environmental health investigators will visit the establishment within two weeks to ensure compliance with food handling practices.

No sick employee was identified at the time of the inspection. Investigators have reviewed with restaurant management the requirement that sick staff are not allowed to work until they no longer have symptoms. Investigators provided training on preventing the spread of Salmonella – including preventing cross-contamination, proper cooling methods, sanitizing procedures and hand washing.

Two of the cases have confirmatory tests indicating infections by Salmonella through culture. Both cases have the same strain of Salmonella, based on DNA fingerprinting (whole genome sequencing, or WGS) at the Washington State Public Health Laboratory. The third case did not undergo confirmatory testing but had symptoms consistent with salmonellosis and is epidemiologically linked.

About Salmonella

Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste tainted. Anyone can get a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has consumed recalled products and has developed symptoms of salmonella food poisoning should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctor about possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria, as special tests are needed to diagnose salmonellosis. Symptoms of Salmonella infection can mimic other illnesses, often leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours of eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, the diarrhea can be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized.

The elderly, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop serious illnesses and serious, sometimes fatal, conditions. Some people are infected without getting sick or showing symptoms. However, they can still transmit the infections to others.

Prevention

  • Wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet, changing diapers, touching animals, and before eating or preparing food.
  • Cook all meats thoroughly, especially poultry.
  • Wash cutting boards and counters used for meat or poultry preparation immediately after use to avoid cross-contamination with other foods.

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