Three people have died after drinking milkshakes from a Tacoma fast-food restaurant, Washington’s health department reported.
The three were among six people hospitalized with an infection caused by one strain of Listeria bacteria. The same strain was found in the two ice cream machines at Frugals, a hamburger drive-through.
The machines, which “were not cleaned correctly,” were taken out of use on Aug. 8, after health inspectors made the connection to the sickened diners, the health department said.
Because Listeria can sicken people for up to 70 days, those who had a Frugals milkshake before Aug. 8 are advised to seek medical care if they’re suffering flu-like symptoms and are pregnant, elderly or immunocompromised. The bacteria was found in all milkshake flavors.
The six patients associated with the case are five people from Pierce County and one person in Thurston County; they were hospitalized between Feb. 27 and July 22. All had conditions that made their immune systems less able to fight the infection, the health department said.
Frugals issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened” by the deaths: “We are heartbroken and deeply regret any harm our actions could have caused,” the company’s statement said. It added that it was cooperating with the investigation and was instituting “enhanced cleaning” procedures at all its outlets.
The chain has three other restaurants in Washington and three in Montana, according to its website.
In another listeriosis case, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday, Aug. 22, that two hospitalizations, in New York and Pennsylvania, were linked to Soft Serve on the Go ice cream cups, sold at grocery stores and to institutional customers across the United States. The manufacturer recalled the product on Aug. 9.
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