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Listeria-contaminated milkshakes kill 3 in Washington, health officials report

Three other patrons of a Frugals fast-food restaurant in Tacoma were hospitalized but survived, the state said. The listeria was found in ice cream machines.
Listeria was found in a unit's ice cream machines. | Photo: Shutterstock

Three people have died after drinking milkshakes from a Frugals fast-food unit in Tacoma where listeria was found in the ice cream machines, the Washington State Department of Health (WSDH) said Friday.

The dispensers “were not cleaned correctly,” the agency reported.

The three casualties had been hospitalized with three other patrons of the store, two of whom recalled having a milkshake.

No traces of the pathogen were found in the equipment of Frugals’ six other restaurants, which specialize in burgers. The chain also runs a food truck.

The implicated store stopped using its ice cream machines on Aug. 8, according to the WSDH. But the agency indicated that more victims could come forward, as the symptoms of listeria poisoning may not show for 70 days.

Officials believe the contaminated shakes were consumed between May 29 and Aug. 7.

An infection with the listeria bacteria is usually not fatal but can be for people in certain situations. Health officials are encouraging Frugals customers who drank a milkshake from the Tacoma store to contact their doctors if they’re over age 65, are pregnant or have some health condition that makes them particularly vulnerable to infection. 

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