Milton restaurant reopens after suspected norovirus outbreak sickens 4

Milton restaurant reopens after suspected norovirus outbreak sickens 4

The Milton Lodge in Milton. Sue Kidd  

MILTON, Wash. — The Milton Lodge will reopen by 5 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 14), a day after it was closed by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department for a suspected norovirus outbreak.

The health department closed the restaurant Monday after three diners from two separate households said they became ill with norovirus-like symptoms 24-36 hours after dining at the restaurant Aug. 7.

Since the initial reports, another diner also contacted the health department to report norovirus-like symptoms after eating at the restaurant Aug. 6.

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“We now know all came down with symptoms 24-36 hours after they dined,” the health department reported in a news release. “This time frame for the onset of symptoms is consistent with norovirus.”

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Owner Shawna Bell, who opened the new restaurant Aug. 4 at 7320 Pacific Hwy E., said the restaurant spent all day Monday cleaning and sanitizing.

“We need to keep people safe,” she said.

The health department requires ready-to-eat items to be thrown away following a suspected norovirus outbreak, but the restaurant opted to throw away all its food, all the way down to the salt, pepper and ketchup.

“We still don’t know the source,” said Bell, who said her employees have all reported to her they have not been ill.

Norovirus can be spread person-to-person but also can be spread through food or surfaces contaminated by a contagious person.

Norovirus is a prolific pathogen that can live on surfaces for up to two weeks and is difficult to eradicate. Symptoms include violent vomiting and diarrhea and typically last one to two days with no long-term effects.

Those who are ill are advised to stay home for at least a day after symptoms have cleared. Food workers should stay home for two days after symptoms have cleared before returning to work.

This is the fourth restaurant norovirus outbreak this year in Pierce County. There was one in January, one in April and another earlier this month.