An outbreak of salmonella food poisoning tied to a Seattle luau may be traced to a Pierce County slaughterhouse that was shut down after an outbreak last year sickened nearly 200 people in five states.
The salmonella food poisoning that sickened nearly a dozen people at a Seattle luau in July is the same type — and possibly from the same source — as an outbreak linked to whole roast pigs that caused nearly 200 illnesses in five states last year, health officials said Tuesday.
At least 11 people in King County and one person in Pierce County may have been sickened by Salmonella I 4, , 12 :i:-, the same strain identified in an outbreak last year that shut down Kapowsin Meats, a Pierce County slaughterhouse, said Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington state epidemiologist.
They all ate whole roast pork served either at the Good Vibe Tribe Luau at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle on July 3, or at a private event in Pierce County, said Lindquist. The meat in both cases came from Kapowsin, which reopened with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on June 13.
“This is very concerning to me,” said Lindquist.
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In King County, there are six confirmed cases of infection with the outbreak strain. Five other people reported eating at the luau and fell ill with symptoms that suggested salmonella poisoning, but they did not get tested.
In Pierce County, a woman in her 60s was hospitalized with salmonella poisoning after eating whole roast pork at a campground barbecue July 2, said Edie Jeffers, a spokeswoman with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
The genetic fingerprints of the bacteria match those from the outbreak that caused 22 clusters of illnesses in June and July 2015 in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Alaska, Lindquist said.
That outbreak caused 192 illnesses, 30 hospitalizations — and the recall of nearly 640,000 pounds of whole hogs and other pork products in August.
The bacteria were resistant to multiple antibiotics, making treatment more difficult, officials said.
When reached by phone, John Anderson, chief executive of Kapowsin Meats in Graham, Pierce County, declined to answer questions Tuesday. He referred calls to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
FSIS officials said Kapowsin had implemented new cleaning, processing and bacterial-sampling protocols, including running whole hog carcasses through a steam intervention to kill bacteria.
Federal inspectors were at the plant when it reopened in June and have been there every day that slaughter occurred.
The plant remained open Tuesday, FSIS officials said. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they were monitoring the outbreak closely.
Health officials urge consumers to use care when cooking whole roast pig to avoid getting sick.
Consumers should make sure the meat is clean, avoid cross-contamination of utensils and surfaces, cook the meat to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and quickly refrigerate cooked meat after meals.
Salmonella food poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms, and serious illness in people with weakened immune systems.