Listeria that killed three in Pierce, Thurston counties linked to milkshakes

Three immunocompromised people in Pierce and Thurston counties died after being infected with a strain of listeria linked to milkshake machines at a Tacoma restaurant. (Image: Pixabay)


A series of Listeria cases in Washington that affected six people and killed three in Pierce and Thurston counties has been linked to milkshakes at Frugals restaurant in Tacoma.

All six people infected had conditions that compromised their immune responses. The restaurant discontinued use of its two milkshake machines on August 8, according to the Department of Health.

The machines will be kept out of commission until the local health department determines they are free of Listeria contamination and no longer a threat to the public.

Genetic sequencing of the bacteria indicated that the same food was likely responsible for making all six people sick. On Aug. 8, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department collected milkshake samples from the restaurant. 

On Aug. 18, all flavors of the milkshakes were found to be contaminated with the same strain of Listeria that caused the outbreak.

Most people who consume food contaminated with Listeria will not experience serious illness. People at higher risk include people with compromised immune systems, people 65 and older, and people who are pregnant. 

Some symptoms of listeria include fever, flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches and fatigue, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and seizures.