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3 Dead After Drinking Milkshakes Linked to Listeria Outbreak at Local Burger Chain in Washington State

Six people were hospitalized and 3 died from Listeria after drinking milkshakes at Frugals in Tacoma, Washington

Three people have died after a Listeria outbreak at a burger bar in Washington state.

The customers drank milkshakes contaminated with Listeria bacteria at a Frugals burger restaurant in Tacoma. Washington State Department of Health confirmed on Aug. 18 that Listeria was found in all of the milkshake flavors at the location. In addition to the three deaths, three other people were hospitalized.

“Investigators found Listeria in the ice cream machines, which were not cleaned correctly,” the department wrote in a press release. “No other Frugals restaurants are believed to be affected.”

The six people, who are between the ages of 40 and 79 — were hospitalized between Feb. 27 and July 22, according to the health department. “All six people had conditions that made their immune systems less able to fight disease,” the department stated, adding that they consumed Frugals’ Tacoma milkshakes before getting sick.

The health department cautioned that people can become infected with Listeria for up to 70 days after being exposed to the bacteria. 

<p>Google Maps</p> Frugals burger in Tacoma

Google Maps

Frugals burger in Tacoma

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According to Frugals Tacoma’s statement on Instagram, the restaurant has been working with Pierce County Health Department (PCHD) to identify the source of the Listeria outbreak “after a test on a milkshake machine in our Tacoma store tested positive for the bacteria.”

The branch also stated that it has stopped selling all milkshakes and has taken the milkshake equipment to an independent facility for cleaning and re-testing. As a precaution, Frugals has also halted the production of milkshakes at their other locations and ordered samples there to be tested for the bacteria.

<p>Getty</p> Listeria monocytogenes bacterium.

Getty

Listeria monocytogenes bacterium.

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“We are heartbroken and deeply regret any harm our actions could have caused,” the restaurant wrote. “As a family-owned business for over 30 years, the trust of our customers is paramount. We will continue to fully cooperate with this investigation, and we are committed to making any changes deemed necessary to maintain our high standard of operations and prevent this from happening again.”

PEOPLE has contacted Frugals headquarters for comment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Listeria infection can occur after eating Listeria monocytogenes, or contaminated food. Symptoms include muscle aches, fever and fatigue. People who aren’t pregnant can also experience seizures, stiff neck, confusion, headaches and loss of balance. 

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