Home Lifestyle Deadly Washington listeria outbreak linked to milkshakes sold at restaurant

Deadly Washington listeria outbreak linked to milkshakes sold at restaurant

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Deadly Washington listeria outbreak linked to milkshakes sold at restaurant

Three people have died in Washington state after becoming infected with listeria bacteria found in milkshakes sold at a burger restaurant, health officials say. 

The Washington State Department of Health says the foodborne outbreak responsible for the deaths and three hospitalizations originated with bacteria present in “all milkshake flavors” sold at a Frugals location in Tacoma. 

“Investigators found listeria in the ice cream machines, which were not cleaned correctly. No other Frugals restaurants are believed to be affected,” the department said in a statement. “The restaurant stopped using its ice cream machines Aug. 8, but listeria can sicken people up to 70 days later.” 

FOX Business reached out to Frugals, which has five locations in Washington and three in Montana, for comment on the deaths. 

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The Frugals restaurant in Tacoma, Wash., where the milkshakes were sold, according to health officials. (Google Maps)

Although most people avoid serious illness after eating food contaminated with listeria, the department is warning those who “are pregnant, aged 65 or older and those with weakened immune systems [to] call their health care provider if they ate a Frugals’ Tacoma milkshake between May 29 and Aug. 7, 2023, and have listeria symptoms.

“People who are not pregnant usually have a fever, muscle aches and tiredness. They may also get a headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or seizures,” health officials said. “Those who are pregnant usually have a fever, muscle aches and tiredness. However, listeria can cause pregnancy loss or premature birth. It can also cause serious illness or death in newborns.” 

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Tacoma Frugals location

The Washington State Department of Health says listeria was found in “all milkshake flavors” sold at the Tacoma Frugals location. (Google Maps)

The Department of Health also said, “Genetic fingerprinting of bacteria in the milkshakes shows it’s the same strain of listeria that hospitalized six people between Feb. 27 and July 22 (five people in Pierce County and one person in Thurston County).” 

All six people impacted by the outbreak had conditions that made their immune systems weaker, and two of those who survived said they had Frugals milkshakes prior to becoming sick, health officials added. 

Listeria outbreak

This 2002 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a listeria monocytogenes bacterium responsible for the foodborne illness listeriosis. (Elizabeth White/CDC via AP, File / AP Newsroom)

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The CDC describes listeriosis, which Washington officials say the people suffered from, as a “serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium listeria monocytogenes.” 

“An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and about 260 die,” it says on its website. 

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