Listeria bacteria found in milkshakes at Tacoma Frugals linked to 3 deaths

Aug 18, 2023, 4:15 PM | Updated: 5:12 pm

listeria bacteria milkshakes tacoma...

A milkshake next to a plate of french fries. (Photo: Niki Chan Wylie, Getty Images)

(Photo: Niki Chan Wylie, Getty Images)

Listeria bacteria found in all milkshake flavors sold at a Frugals restaurant location in Tacoma are associated with an outbreak linked to three deaths and three more hospitalizations, according to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).

State investigators said they were in compromised health when they drank the shakes from Frugals located at 10727 Pacific Ave. S, later claiming the restaurant’s ice cream machines were not being properly cleaned.

More on Washington health hazards: Deadly fungus spreading in US with approximately 60% mortality

“Most people who eat food contaminated with Listeria will not get seriously sick, but people who are pregnant, aged 65 or older, and those with weakened immune systems should call their health care provider if they ate a Frugals’ Tacoma milkshake between (May 29 and Aug. 7) and have Listeria symptoms,” the Washington Department of Health (DOH) noted in its prepared statement.

No other Frugals restaurants besides the Tacoma location are believed to be affected. The restaurant chain lists eight locations on its website with five in Washington and three more in Montana.

The restaurant stopped using the machines Aug. 8, but Listeria bacteria can cause sickness up to 70 days after it’s been consumed, the DOH said.

Listeriosis is a serious infection most commonly caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria bacteria. An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and approximately 260 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Coverage of health issues: First case of deadly fungus diagnosed in Washington

Symptoms from those who are not pregnant usually suffer from fever, muscle aches and tiredness. Headache, stiff joints, confusion, loss of balance and seizures are also symptoms from the Listeria bacteria. Listeria can also cause pregnancy loss, premature birth and serious illness or even death among newborns.

Genetic fingerprinting of the bacteria in the milkshakes found it was the same strain of Listeria that hospitalized six people between Feb. 27 and July 22 (five people in Pierce County and one person in Thurston County), the DOH reported. Officials confirmed all six people had conditions that made their immune systems less able to fight disease.

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Listeria bacteria found in milkshakes at Tacoma Frugals linked to 3 deaths