Marler Clark E. coli Attorneys represented three people sickened in this outbreak, including one child that developed acute kidney failure.
Seattle King County Public Health investigated a cluster of five E. coli infections caused by Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (also called STEC) associated with Matador restaurant in Ballard. Four people ate on 8/14 and one person ate on 8/22. Public Health received the first report of illness on 8/22/16 and the most recent case was reported on 9/6/16. All the people developed symptoms including diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Four people developed bloody diarrhea. Three people were hospitalized with one person developing a type of kidney injury called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). All five people have recovered.
Laboratory testing (molecular fingerprinting) determined that all five people had the same strain of STEC bacteria. The investigation is in progress but due to food processing equipment cleaning and the possibility of cross contamination that were observed during an inspection by the Environmental Health team, Public Health temporarily suspended Matador’s food business permit to allow time for thorough cleaning and sanitizing. The restaurant worked cooperatively with Public Health.
Update from King County:
In addition to the 5 known ill people described in the original update on Friday 9/9 who ate at Matador, 5 additional people became ill with the same strain of E. coli as the people who ate at Matador.
We are aware of 2 other Washington state residents (who are not King County residents) and 3 out-of-state residents who tested positive for E. coli with the same strain of E. coli as the King County cases that were previously reported on. Investigation of those cases is ongoing by their respective health departments. One of the out-of-state cases had a meal at the Matador restaurant in Ballard during the exposure period. Links to Matador have not been identified among the other out-of-county cases.
The genetic fingerprint or “PFGE” is similar across all these cases. This particular E. coli strain has not been seen in Washington state before. August 22nd is the last known meal date for people who we know got sick after eating at Matador.
A person with an E. coli infection can take a week or more to develop symptoms. Then the ill person needs to go to his/her doctor. A stool sample is taken, which is sent to the lab, and it can take several days for the results to become available. The lab or the physician then reports positive results to Public Health, who attempts to contact the patient and conduct one or more interviews. Frequently, we don’t reach the person on the first attempt and we need to interview cases more than one time to identify commonalities. Four of the five cases in King County did not report eating at the Matador when they were initially interviewed by Public Health staff.
Restaurant inspection findings: As soon as we were able to determine that there was a link to Matador restaurant, we inspected and suspended the permit to operate. We found that there was the potential for cross contamination based on inadequate cleaning of the food processing machines (e.g. food processor) and there was inadequate cleaning of some produce. We do not know if either of these contributed to the outbreak.
All cases have been resolved.