The E. coli O26 outbreak at Chipotle restaurants in Oregon and Washington state has sickened at least 49 people, according to the latest case counts provided by the health departments. Thirty people are sick in Washington state, and nineteen people are sick in Oregon.
The Chipotle restaurants associated with this outbreak in each state have been identified by public health officials. In Washington state, the five restaurants are located at Hazel Dell, 7715 NE 5th Avenue, Suite 109 in Vancouver; 1401 Broadway Avenue in Seattle; 4229 University Way NE in Seattle; 512 Ramsey Way 101 in Kent; and 1753 South Burlington Boulevard in Burlington. In Oregon, the six restaurants are located at 9687 NE Cascades Pkwy, Cascade Station; 9120 SW Hall Blvd, Washington Square; 8 Centerpointe Dr, Lake Oswego; 2048 NW Stucki Ave, Tanasbourne; Clackamas Town Center, Sunnyside; and 2065 NE Burnside Rd, Gresham.
The patient case counts are: in Oregon, 19 people sick as of 11/10215 in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, Linn, and Lane counties. The patient age range is from 11 to 74. Four people have been hospitalized because of their illnesses. In Washington state, the patients live in Clark, Cowlitz, Island, King, Skagit, and Whatcom counties. Ten patients have been hospitalized. There have been no reports of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and no deaths.
Of 23 people for whom information is available, all have been infected with STEC O26 with the same DNA fingerprint. That means they were sickened by a common food source or at a common location. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) is being conducted to give investigators more information about the pathogenic bacteria that has caused this outbreak.
Initial testing has found no E. coli bacteria in the 25 food samples taken so far. That doesn’t mean that Chipotle was not the location where the outbreak began. The contaminated food may have been thrown out or consumed before it could be tested. More test results are still pending.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is bloody and/or watery, a mild fever, and nausea and vomiting. Loss of appetite and fatigue are also common symptoms. The symptoms usually appear three to four days after exposure to the bacteria. The symptoms of HUS include pale skin, lethargy, little or no urine output, easy bruising, and a skin rash.
If you ate at a Chipotle restaurant in Washington state or Oregon during the month of October and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor. A correct diagnosis is crucial to a good outcome. If someone with an E. coli infection is given antibiotics, the chances of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome increases. HUS can be life-threatening, so medical care is necessary.
Chipotle has reopened the 43 restaurants in both states. The Oregon Health Authority criteria for reopening restaurants in that state include disposing of all food items, sanitizing each facility, and bringing in all new foods before reopening. Some high risk foods will be pretested before heading to the restaurants. All fresh produce will be rinsed and sanitized, and county public health food safety inspectors will visit each restaurant to verify that these actions are being followed.