Lakewood restaurant closed for suspected norovirus outbreak

California Tacos, a Mexican restaurant in Lakewood, was closed Tuesday for a suspected norovirus outbreak, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported. The restaurant is located at 14818 Union Ave. SW, Lakewood.

Three diners who ate together but who do not live together reported becoming ill after eating at the restaurant on Sunday (Feb. 24), said the health department's communications manager Edie Jeffers. The diners reported their illnesses to the health department on Tuesday.

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Additionally, at least two employees of the restaurant reported they were ill with norovirus-like symptoms between Wednesday (Feb. 20) and Saturday (Feb. 23). Those employees will be tested for norovirus.

Employees or managers of the restaurant, California Tacos, could not be reached for comment.

The health department reported on its blog that the restaurant will be closed for at least 24 hours, giving the restaurant time to clean and sanitize the restaurant. That is the typical protocol for closures of this kind.

This is the fourth norovirus outbreak at a Pierce County restaurant in the last year, with all those restaurants closing and then reopening quickly. In all, about 500 people have reported being sickened by the virus after eating in Pierce County restaurants in the last year.

The virus is prolific because it is a particularly pesky pathogen that lives on surfaces for several days and is spread easily. It's highly contagious. After somebody becomes ill, it is easy to spread to other members of a household.

The health department alerts the public of a norovirus outbreak because the illness can spread so rapidly.

The symptoms of norovirus can come on quickly, appearing within hours or a few days of coming into contact with the pathogen. The symptoms include prolific vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms typically clear up in a day or two with typically no long-term effects.

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