Norovirus outbreak suspected at downtown Seattle office tower

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SEATTLE, Wash – The Seattle & King County health department is investigating a large norovirus outbreak at a downtown Seattle office building (1301 – 2nd Avenue).   The building is headquarters to Russell Investments. The health departments investigation is in the early stages, a press release said.

Early reports (which have not been verified by the Public Health) estimate that several hundred people may have been impacted, the release reported.

More information from the Seattle & King County health department press release:

The building cafeteria and food operation, which is not open to the public, was at least one place that norovirus transmission may have taken place. However, we have been made aware that people were ill in restrooms and in other parts of the building, so there is potential for infection spread from person-to-person and through contaminated objects, like doorknobs and bathroom facilities.

Public Health Environmental Health staff inspected the facility on Friday afternoon. They advised the building management how to clean and sanitize the food facilities as well as the entire building. For example, in addition to discarding food in the building’s cafeteria, and cleaning and sanitizing all food operation/sales areas, the rest of the building is also being sanitized. Door knobs, phones handrails, elevator buttons, break areas, microwaves, supply rooms, copiers, linens, bathrooms and other similar areas will be bleach cleaned. Building management was provided with information about norovirus to share with all employees.

Norovirus is highly contagious, and produces symptoms including stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is very common, causing as many as 20 million cases of gastroenteritis in the United States each year. Most people recover within a day or two. However, dehydration can pose a more significant risk to the very young and the elderly. The best way to prevent norovirus from spreading is through thorough hand washing. Read our fact sheet at www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/communicable/diseases/NorovirusControl.aspx

This is a developing news story and will be updated when more information is available.

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