Norovirus-like illness associated with Purple Café and Wine Bar, Cast Iron Studios, and Lot No. 3 in Bellevue
- Cases: 31
- Hospitalizations: 0
- Deaths: 0
- Status: Investigation is complete
- Locations: Purple Café and Wine Bar and Lot No. 3, 460 106th Ave NE; Cast Iron Studios, 10650 NE 4th St, Bellevue, WA 98004
- Meal dates: April 6-10, 2019
- Prior food safety inspections and current rating?
Updated September 30, 2019
Public Health investigated an outbreak of norovirus-like illness with vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, chills, and fever associated with Purple Café and Wine Bar, Lot No. 3, and Cast Iron Studios, all in Bellevue. The three establishments, all owned by Heavy Restaurant Group, share a building, multiple kitchens, foods, and employees.
Since April 11, 2019, approximately 26 customers from three separate meal parties got sick with norovirus-like symptoms after eating food from three of the Heavy Restaurant Group’s locations in Bellevue during April 6–April 10, 2019. We since identified at least 5 employees who experienced symptoms consistent with norovirus dating back to April 7, 2019, some of whom might have worked while contagious.
A single food or drink item that caused the illness was not identified. This is not uncommon for norovirus outbreaks because the virus can spread from multiple contaminated food items, through environmental surfaces, or from person to person.
- Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that frequently spreads person-to-person and is often associated with food. Norovirus illness often has a sudden onset of nausea and vomiting and/or watery diarrhea with cramps. A low-grade fever, chills, and body aches sometimes occur.
- Norovirus rarely causes severe complications. Dehydration is the most common complication, particularly among young children and the elderly. No vaccine is available for norovirus.
General advice for reducing risk of contracting norovirus:
- Wash hands, cutting boards, and counters used for food preparation immediately after use to avoid cross contaminating other foods.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing any food or eating.
- Wait at least 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea before preparing any food for others.
More information about norovirus
Public Health actions
Environmental Health investigators visited the three restaurants on April 16, 2019, and learned of ill employees. Investigators did not find any other potential risk factors known to contribute to the spread of norovirus, such as improper handwashing.
The Heavy Restaurant Group is worked cooperatively with Public Health. On April 16, 2019, Purple Café and Wine Bar, Lot No. 3, and Cast Iron Studios, in Bellevue, closed for a thorough cleaning and disinfection. All potentially contaminated ready-to-eat foods were discarded. Investigators reviewed with restaurant management the requirement that ill employees are not allowed to work until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours, and provided education about preventing the spread of norovirus — including proper handwashing and preventing bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. Restaurant management was also given guidance for use of appropriate disinfection agents against norovirus.
Public Health investigators revisited the restaurants on April 17, 2019, to ensure appropriate cleaning and disinfection had been completed and to gather more details about employee illnesses. Investigators also conducted a training for restaurant employees on proper food-handling practices, highlighting correct handwashing, preventing bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, and not working until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours. The restaurant was allowed to reopen on April 17, 2019. Investigators returned to the restaurant within two weeks and ensured compliance with food safety practices.
We do not have laboratory results for the people who got sick. Often in norovirus outbreaks, no laboratory testing is done. Symptoms among those who got sick are suggestive of norovirus.