The E. coli O111 outbreak in Minnesota associated with Applebee’s restaurants may have expanded to two other states, according to NBC News. The CDC has not released any information about this expansion, but is apparently investigating two more cases of the rare bacterial strain.
Public health officials will not name the states until they have confirmed that the patients are sick with the same outbreak strain of E. coli. This strain of E. coli O111 has not been seen in the United States until now. Pritzker Olsen has filed a lawsuit against Applebee’s on behalf of a young man who ate the Oriental Chicken Salad at a Woodbury restaurant in late June.
The original report of the outbreak was released on Monday, July 14, 2014 by the Minnesota Department of Health. Thirteen people are part of the outbreak in Minnesota. Seven of those patients ate at Applebee’s restaurants in that state in late June. The remaining six patients did not eat at Applebee’s, which may indicate that the contaminated food was widely distributed and the outbreak may be larger than first thought.
Applebee’s is cooperating with authorities and the investigation. They have pulled Oriental Chicken Salad, the menu item believed to be associated with this outbreak, from their menu, as well as ingredients in that salad used to make other recipes. The definitive source of the bacteria has not yet been identified. Traceback investigations take some time to complete.
Public health officials are asking that anyone who has had the symptoms of an E. coli infection, which include severe stomach and abdominal cramps, vomiting, and watery and/or bloody diarrhea see their doctor immediately, especially if they ate at an Applebee’s restaurant in late June. E. coli O111 is not usually tested for by laboratories, so more people could be ill with the outbreak strain and not know about it. If an E. coli infection is treated with antibiotics, serious complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can develop.