King County Public Health temporarily closed La Hacienda Santa Fe, a Mexican restaurant located at 811 South Third, on April 27 after a potential outbreak of norovirus.
Five people from one dinner party became ill after eating from the restaurant on April 21, according to a county press release. The affected parties were reported to have gastroenteritis, including vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
Public Health learned about the illness on April 25 and officials visited the restaurant on April 27 and closed the restaurant the same day for cleaning and sanitizing. According to the release, the restaurant was cooperative with Public Health.
After a follow-up inspection, Public Health authorized the reopening of the restaurant on April 28. There were no additional reports of any illness.
During the initial inspection, officials identified numerous food safety violations, including inadequate facilities to control temperature of potentially hazardous food and cold holding, foods not protected from cross contamination, poor personal hygiene practices like handwashing and improper sanitation of equipment and utensils.
According to the release, Public Health does not have laboratory confirmation of the etiology, but symptoms are suggestive of norovirus, a highly contagious virus that is spread person-to-person and is often associated with food.
The illness has a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea with cramps. While norovirus rarely causes serious complications, dehydration is the most common symptom. There is no vaccine for the illness.
More than 50 percent of all food borne illnesses in the United States are caused by norovirus, most often from ill food workers who contaminate the food they prepare, according to Public Health. People infected with norovirus may still be contagious for at least three days after they are better.
For more information about norovirus, visit http://www.kingcounty.gov/norovirus.