Public Health in Washington State’s King County is investigating an outbreak of salmonellosis (caused by Salmonella bacteria) associated with Chili’s South Indian Cuisine in Seattle. The investigation is ongoing.
“At this time, we have not identified how Salmonella was spread within the restaurant,” Public Health said. It says this is not uncommon because Salmonella can spread through contaminated food items, environmental surfaces, and from person to person.
Since October 6, 2022, three people from two separate meal parties reported becoming ill after consuming food from Chili’s South Indian Cuisine in Seattle on September 17, 2022, and September 23, 2022. All the people developed one or more symptoms consistent with salmonellosis, including diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting. No employees are known to have become sick.
Public Health conducted interviews with the people ill with salmonellosis to identify potential common exposures and found that they all became ill after eating food from Chili’s South Indian Cuisine.
Environmental Health Investigators visited the restaurant on October 19, 2022. Investigators identified sanitizing issues, potential cross-contamination, inadequate hand washing, and lack of proper access to handwashing stations. Corrective actions were taken during the inspection. Environmental Health Investigators will revisit the facility within two weeks to ensure proper compliance with food handling practices.
No ill employees were identified at the time of inspection. Investigators reviewed with restaurant management the requirement that ill staff is not allowed to work until they are symptom-free. Investigators provided education about preventing the spread of Salmonella – including preventing cross-contamination, proper cooling methods, sanitizing procedures, and handwashing.
Two of the cases have confirmatory testing indicating infections with Salmonella via culture. Both cases have the same strain of Salmonella, based on genetic fingerprinting (whole genome sequencing or WGS) at the Washington State Public Health Laboratory. The third case did not have confirmatory testing but had symptoms consistent with Salmonellosis and is epidemiologically linked.
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, 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 eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.
Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe illnesses and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.
- Wash hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom, 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-contaminating other foods.
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