July 16, 2024

Chipotle E. coli Outbreak Expands to 9 States, 52 Sick, 20 Hospitalized

Chipotle Mexican GrillThe Chipotle E. coli  outbreak has sickened 52 people in nine states, 20 of them have been hospitalized, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A food source has still not been determined.

Since the last update, on November 20, the outbreak has expanded to include three more states: Illinois, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. And seven new illnesses from six states have been reported. Two of them started in October, five began in November.

The most recent illnesses were reported from the following states:  California (1), Illinois (1), Maryland (1), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (1), and Washington (1). That brings the total  reported from each state to: California (3), Illinois (1), Maryland (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), Ohio (3), Oregon (13), Pennsylvania (1), and Washington (27).

During interviews with health officials, case patients reported onset of illness dates ranging from October 19 to November 13.  All but five of them reported eating at a Chipotle Mexican Grill before they became ill. Of the three most recent cases, only one reported eating at Chipotle before becoming ill.

The case patients range in age from 1 to 94 years old with a median age of 21. Roughly 59 percent are female.

Health officials have used DNA tests to identify the fingerprint of the Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli (STEC) O26 bacteria causing illness. Whole Genome Sequencing has been performed on STEC O26 isolates from 21 case patients in Washington,  California, Minnesota, and New York. The results showed the isolates were  highly related genetically providing further evidence that illnesses outside the Pacific Northwest, where the outbreak was first thought to be isolated, are related, according to the CDC.

Health officials have not yet determined which food ingredient is causing the illnesses. Investigators are interviewing patients to discover ingredients that all of those who became ill consumed. Tests have been performed on a number of food items taken from Washington and Oregon locations. The initial round of tests did not produce any positives for E. coli.

According to a lawsuit filed by the national food safety law firm Pritzker Hageman on behalf of Washington woman, one of the ingredients in a burrito bowl was the source of illness. She ordered the meal from a Vancouver location on October 21 and began experiencing symptoms of an E. coli infection, including abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea about three days later

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and a fever of less than 101˚F.  Symptoms usually develop one to three days after exposure and last about a week. Those at highest risk include children, seniors and those with compromised immune systems.

About 10 percent of people with E. coli infections develop a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a form of kidney failure.  None of the case patients in this outbreak have developed HUS. Symptoms of this conditon, which usually set in on the eighth day of E.coli symptoms, include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, loss of color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. Anyone who has these symptoms should seek immediate medical care. In addition to kidney failure, HUS can cause seizure, stroke, coma and death.

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