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Tacoma restaurant reopens after being closed over suspected norovirus

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TACOMA, Was. -- The El Toro Restaurant, 5716 N. 26th St. in Tacoma, was closed over a suspected norovirus outbreak, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department says.

Several customers and at least two employees were ill.

The Health Department says the restaurant reopened Tuesday morning after it was cleaned and sanitized.

The Health Department got two reports of illness from customers on Jan. 5 and one on Jan. 8. Each report has two cases, so six people have reported being ill.

All ate at El Toro on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. They got sick 24 to 36 hours after eating, and the symptoms lasted one and half to two days.

They ate different meals but all had chips and salsa, the Health Department says.

The Health Department also identified two restaurant employees who worked while ill at the time the customers who later got sick ate at El Toro.

The employees can return to work 48 hours after they become well.

“The virus spreads easily and is environmentally persistent,” said Katie Lott, food program manager, in a statement. “Norovirus can stay on objects and surfaces and still infect people for days or weeks,."

The Health Department said some infected with norovirus can spread the virus up to two weeks after recovering. Washing your hands and not touching ready-to-eat food prevents the spread of the virus.

“It’s very important that food workers stay home when they are sick so they get well—and keep others from getting sick,” 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.

Norovirus is highly contagious and can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

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

Learn more about norovirus at www.tpchd.org/norovirus.

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