September 20, 2019

Minnesota Applebees E. coli Outbreak Fact Sheet

Ten days after the Minnesota Department of Health created a health bulletin about an E. coli O111 outbreak associated with Applebees, there have been no new public pronouncements about the precise cause of the food poisoning episode or whether it spread beyond the state’s borders.

To date, here is what Food Poisoning Bulletin has learned from various sources: 15 people — two more than originally announced — have been confirmed as case patients by the Health Department.

12 of the 15 people say they ate at an Applebees in Minnesota between June 23 and June 29.

The nine Minnesota Applebees locations named by the Health Department as linked to this outbreak are in Woodbury, Willmar, Monticello, Bemidji, New Hope, Duluth, Roseville and two locations in Blaine.

Anyone who ate at a Minnesota Applebees since June 20 and fell ill with bloody diarrhea should call the Minnesota Foodborne Illness Hotline: 1-877-FOOD-ILL.

Two people outside the state recently tested positive for the same strain of E. coli 0111, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not indicated that they are part of this outbreak.

Some type of fresh produce — contaminated by a fecal substance at some point in the growing field or handling route to the dining tables at Applebees in Minnesota  — is suspected of causing the outbreak. Cabbage, carrots or greens mixed into the restaurant chain’s Oriental Chicken Salad have been chief suspects. Applebees in Minnesota pulled the salad from its menu and certain ingredients that went into the salad also were removed from the menu.

This outbreak marks the first major appearance for E. coli O111 in a U.S. food poisoning outbreak since 2008, when one person was killed and another 340 people  were sickened in a toxic E. coli outbreak linked to Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. According to the CDC, only 10 outbreaks involving E. coli 0111 had been reported nationally prior to Oklahoma’s outbreak.

E. coli 0111 is a close cousin to the more commonly seen and feared E. coli O157:H7. Both types of the pathogen emit a toxin that can cause kidney failure, neurological pathos, heart damage, vascular injury, severe anemia and death.

The particular genetic strain of E. coli O111 identified in the Minnesota Applebees E. coli outbreak has not been seen in the United States previously.

An Applebees E. coli lawsuit  has been filed in United States District Court in the District of Minnesota. The suit was filed by E. coli lawyers Fred Pritzker, Brendan Flaherty and Ryan Osterholm on behalf of a young man who ate Oriental Chicken Salad at the Applebees in Woodbury, Minnesota. He was treated for symptoms so painful that he felt like he was getting stabbed in the stomach. The PritzkerOlsen law firm, based in Minneapolis, has added additional clients and is continuing to provide free consultations to victims of the Applebees E. coli outbreak about how to pursue a comprehensive claim.

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