Jan. 10, 2018, 2:58 p.m.

The Health Department has more reports of ill customers from the suspected norovirus outbreaks at two El Toro restaurants. We have received reports of 232 ill customers at the Tacoma location and four at the one in University Place. We continue to receive more reports and interview more customers.

If you ate at El Toro Restaurant and became ill, contact the Health Department at food@tpchd.org, report online at www.tpchd.org/reportfoodborneillness, or call (253) 798-4712.

Jan. 10, 2018, 12:21 p.m.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is working with El Toro Restaurant on a second suspected norovirus outbreak. Today, the Health Department closed the restaurant’s University Place location, 3820 Bridgeport Way W., for at least 24 hours or until thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

We received two reports on Jan. 8 from customers in separate households who say they got ill after dining at the University Place location. Each report has multiple cases. We are still confirming the total and gathering information about new cases.

The customers got sick after they ate at El Toro’s University Place restaurant on Jan. 6. They experienced symptoms, which include vomiting and diarrhea, 24-36 hours after eating. Their symptoms lasted one to two days. We suspect norovirus to be the pathogen based on the symptoms.

It’s unclear if this outbreak is connected to our ongoing norovirus investigation at El Toro’s Tacoma restaurant in the Westgate neighborhood, 5716 N. 26th St.

“Someone exposed to norovirus can spread it 24 hours before showing symptoms,” said Katie Lott, food safety program manager. “That’s why preventing bare hand contact with food is so important,” Lott said.

Ill employees can return to work at a food establishment 48 hours after they become well.

“Food establishments benefit when sick food workers stay home: They don’t lose business and don’t jeopardize the health of their customers,” said Lott. “With Washington’s new paid sick leave law, food workers don’t have to be penalized financially for taking care of their health.” Learn more about paid sick leave on the Labor and Industries website.

In a recent editorial, the News Tribune supported the new sick leave law. The newspaper quoted research that said the law may benefit public health, in part, because of a “connection between paid sick leave and overall better population health, including fewer infectious outbreaks.”

Norovirus:

  • Is highly contagious.
  • Causes explosive diarrhea and violent vomiting, often at the same time.
  • Is the same virus often related to cruise ship outbreaks.

Cleaning for norovirus

Clean vomit or diarrhea accidents immediately.

Step 1. Remove vomit or poop.

  • Pick up the chunks with paper towels or other disposable material.
  • Soak up liquids with absorbent materials. Use kitty litter or dry oatmeal for carpeted areas.
  • Double bag and discard.
  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner.

Step 2. Sanitize.

  • Disinfect hard surfaces using 1 2/3 cups of household bleach per gallon of water. Allow for 1 minute of contact time.
  • Sanitize all handles and knobs in your house with the bleach solution.
  • Linens (including clothing, towels, napkins): Wash separately in hot water and dry on high.
  • Steam clean carpets using the highest setting for heat.
  • Avoid cross-contamination (use separate sanitation cloths for bathroom and other surfaces).
  • Clean and disinfect all containers used (e.g., buckets).

Handwashing

Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Especially after cleaning, restroom use and before eating.

If you ate at El Toro Restaurant and became ill, contact the Health Department at food@tpchd.org, report online at www.tpchd.org/reportfoodborneillness, or call (253) 798-4712.

Learn more about norovirus at www.tpchd.org/norovirus. Sign up for restaurant closures at www.tpchd.org/notify.