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  • Cases: 60
  • Hospitalizations: 4
  • Deaths: 0
  • Status: Investigation is ongoing
  • Location: Events catered by Eric Gorbman Catering at Temple Beth Am and Congregation Beth Shalom in Seattle
  • Event date: March 3, 2018
  • Prior food safety inspections and current rating? N/A


Updated March 16, 2018

Public Health is investigating an outbreak of Shigella infection (also known as "shigellosis") associated with events at Temple Beth Am and Congregation Beth Shalom in Seattle. Both events were catered by Eric Gorbman Catering with additional food items brought potluck style by attendees at the Temple Beth Am event.

If you are currently ill with symptoms such as diarrhea (bloody or non-bloody), fever, and abdominal pain, please contact your health care provider to discuss testing and treatment options. Submitting a stool sample can help confirm if you have shigellosis.

Ill persons with suspected shigellosis should not work in food handling, patient care, or childcare settings, and ill children with suspected shigellosis should not attend daycare until they have seen a healthcare provider and been tested for Shigella infection, even if their illness is mild. Persons with Shigella infection who work in or attend these sensitive settings must be cleared by Public Health before returning.

The investigation is ongoing and we will provide updates as needed.


Since March 6, Public Health has learned of approximately 60 persons that became ill after consuming food and beverage at the Temple Beth Am event catered by Eric Gorbman Catering.

Additionally, we have determined that at least 2 catering employees have also reported similar illness following the event, but these employees did not report being ill while working at the event. Employees that became ill after the event are not likely the source of the outbreak and may have been exposed to the same source that made other event participants ill.

Preliminary information from persons who completed our online survey indicates that attendees were exposed to Shigella at the Temple Beth Am event; we have not identified anyone that became ill after consuming food and beverage at the Congregation Beth Shalom event.

Public Health actions

Public Health required Eric Gorbman Catering to close and will remain closed until approved to reopen by Public Health.

We are currently testing all caterer employees for Shigella. All employees will be required to be cleared by Public Health before being allowed to return to food handling.

We have reached out to the venues where the private events were held to advise them on deep cleaning procedures.

Public Health Communicable Disease investigators have interviewed event attendees about the foods they ate and symptoms they experienced. In addition, we have been working with the Washington State Department of Health to collect this information from event attendees who we were unable to interview with an online survey. Comparing food histories from event attendees who became ill and those who did not could help us determine what might have caused illness and prevent others from becoming sick. Investigators are also interviewing catering staff.

Our Environmental Health team met with the caterer to collect information about the food prepared at the event and food safety practices.

The exact food or drink item that caused the illnesses has not been identified. We may never know what caused the illness because the bacteria spreads easily and multiple food items may have been contaminated.

Laboratory testing

We have received laboratory confirmation that twelve of the ill persons were infected with Shigella. Though we do not have lab confirmation for the other people that got sick, their symptoms are consistent with Shigella infections as well.

Report possible foodborne illness

About shigellosis

  • Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Shigella.

  • Most who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Some people may have no symptoms at all.

  • Shigella usually resolves itself in 5-7 days, but recovered individuals may still spread the bacteria.


General advice for reducing risk of contracting Shigella:

  1. Wash hands, cutting boards, and counters used for food preparation immediately after use to avoid cross contaminating other foods.

  2. Wash hands thoroughly with soap after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing any food or eating.

  3. Wait at least 48 hours after the last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea before preparing any food for others.

  4. Avoid sexual activity with those who have diarrhea or who recently (within the past several weeks) recovered from shigellosis.

More information about shigellosis

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