Chipotle E. Coli Continues to Spread and Sicken Customers in More States

The recent Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak associated with Chipotle has yet to be contained as it continues to move between the coasts.

The recent Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak associated with Chipotle has yet to be contained as it continues to move between the coasts.

You ordered your burrito and made sure to add a side of guacamole and chips, but what you didn’t ask for was a potentially deadly bacteria. The popular Mexican restaurant first came under fire in October when the initial E. coli cases were reported. By November 4, 29 people in Washington and 10 in Oregon had fallen ill to the E. coli O26 (STEC O26) strain. Not only has the number of cases climbed since then, but it also spread to additional states.

As of November 19, the outbreak has hit six states and infected 45 people — 43 of which reported eating Chipotle leading up to falling ill. A statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that patients range in age from 2 to 94. Sixteen of the patients have been hospitalized so far and the CDC and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working with state officials on the matter.

  • California: 2 people
  • Minnesota: 2 people
  • New York: 1 people
  • Ohio: 1 people
  • Oregon: 13 people
  • Washington: 26 people

Whole genome sequencing, an advanced laboratory technique, confirmed the similar DNA fingerprint between patients. According to a FDA news release, the method has isolated the STEC O26 strain in nine patients in Washington and one in Minnesota which determined that they are “highly related genetically.” The technology can verify links between E. coli outbreaks across the country.

“Since this issue began, Chipotle conducted deep cleaning at the restaurants that have been linked to this incident, replaced ingredients in those restaurants, changed food preparation procedures, provided all necessary supply chain data to investigators, and surveyed employees to be sure none had E. coli,” a statement issued by Chipotle said. “Similar actions are immediately being taken in response to these newly reported cases.”

Investigators have not pinpointed the exact item that is causing the illness, but they suspect that it’s a common meal ingredient.

Infected individuals typically begin to show symptoms, such as abdominal pain and diarrhea, within three to four days. No patients have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome and there have not been any deaths in association with the current outbreak. Officials continue to investigate.

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