Health officials: Matador restaurant closed amid E. coli concerns, as many as 10 sickened

SEATTLE -- Health department officials are investigating a popular local restaurant after as many as 10 people suffered food poisoning stemming from the powerful E. coli bacteria.

On Friday, King County Public Health officials announced five people reported cases of food poisoning after eating at the Matador restaurant in Ballard in August. At least three of the people were hospitalized, with one person developing a kidney injury due to the sickness.

All five people recovered.

The Matador's license to operate was temporarily suspended, and the restaurant was closed over the weekend, health officials said.

Officials then announced Monday five more people were sickened with the same strain of E. coli as the people who previously ate at Matador. Two of those sickened were Washington state residents, officials said, and three were from another state.

One of the out of state cases had eaten a meal at the Matador in August. However, it was not confirmed if the other four individuals had eaten at the restaurant, or how they picked up the bacteria.

Officials said since Aug. 22 is the last known meal date for people who had gone to the restaurant and gotten sick, it is unlikely that a potential E. coli outbreak is ongoing.  But it is possible that public health authorities "will continue to find people who became sick later in August or early September," officials said.

The restaurant was still closed Monday, with a sign in the window saying the closure is due to renovations. It was not immediately known when the restaurant could and would open.

Those who have eaten at the restaurant and develop diarrhea within 10 days should consult their doctor, officials said.

The bacteria normally lives in the intestines of humans and animals. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps and a mild fever. Illness typically last several days.