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Public health investigating local foodborne illness

More than 60 Everett restaurant patrons ill

SNOHOMISH COUNTY---Snohomish Health District is investigating reports suggesting a viral foodborne illness among patrons of an Everett restaurant. As of April 12 about 85 individuals had been interviewed by the communicable disease section of the Health District. Sixty-two of those interviewed said they were ill following a meal at the same restaurant.

The ongoing investigation by the Health District suggests that many of the illnesses are associated with consuming a variety of foods including salad items from El Paraiso Mexican Grill during the week ending April 7. The restaurant location is 2801 Colby Ave, Everett.

“The incubation period, symptoms and duration of illness are consistent with a virus,” said M. Ward Hinds, MD, MPH, head of the county-wide health agency. The sick customers most commonly reported nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea, sometimes with chills and muscle aches, lasting approximately a day. The onset of illness averaged 35 hours after eating, and people stayed sick approximately two days.

Whenever a foodborne outbreak is suspected, the Health District mobilizes a multidisciplinary team of investigators to interview as many exposed persons as possible, inspect the restaurant for food safety practices, and collect specimens for lab analysis.

To date, no causative organism has been identified from specimens.

Dr. Hinds ordered the restaurant closed April 9 when a second wave of illnesses was detected. Health District sanitarians spent the day with the restaurant staff reviewing all aspects of safe food preparation and service, overseeing the disposal of all ice and prepared foods, and testing cooking and hot-hold equipment for correct operation. The restaurant was allowed to reopen April 11.

This is the first incidence of illness associated with El Paraiso restaurant since it opened in November 2001. Health District inspection reports show the facility has complied with safety and health standards at all its prior inspections.

Snohomish Health District inspects more than 2,600 food service facilities throughout the county up to three times each a year. The Health District also issues food handler permits to approximately 14,000 people following their successful completion of safety and health training.

Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works to improve the health of individuals, families and communities through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Find more information about the Health District and food handler permits at If you suspect you have a food-related illness, call 425.339.5225 and ask to speak to a communicable disease nurse.