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AT-A-GLANCE

  • Cases: 61
  • Hospitalizations: 4
  • Deaths: 0
  • Status: Closed
  • 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

Highlights

Updated March 26, 2018
Summary

This outbreak appears to be over. Public Health investigated an outbreak of Shigella sonnei infections (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.

We have evidence that suggests food prepared by Eric Gorbman Catering at a Temple Beth Am event on March 3, 2018 was the likely source of this outbreak. The exact food or drink item that caused the illnesses was not identified. We may never know what caused the illnesses because the bacteria spreads easily and multiple food items may have been contaminated.

Illnesses

Since March 6, Public Health has learned of approximately 61 persons that became infected with the outbreak strain of Shigella sonnei after consuming food and beverage at the Temple Beth Am event catered by Eric Gorbman Catering. Everyone who reported illness became ill between March 4, 2018, and March 8, 2018. Four people were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported. We did not identify anyone that became ill after consuming food and beverage at the Congregation Beth Shalom event.

Two employees reported illness, but none of the catering employees reported working while ill. One of two employees who reported becoming ill following the event was confirmed by laboratory testing to be infected with Shigella sonnei. 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.

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 working with Eric Gorbman Catering to complete testing of all catering employees for Shigella. All employees will be required to be cleared by Public Health before being allowed to return to food handling.

Public Health plans to reach out to caterers who provide services to synagogues to answer their questions regarding food safety and permitting requirements.

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 15 of the ill persons were infected with Shigella sonnei. Though we do not have lab confirmation for the other people that got sick, their symptoms are consistent with Shigella sonnei 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.
  • 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.

Prevention

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 24 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

Link/share this page at www.kingcounty.gov/outbreak/egc