The Chipotle E. coli outbreak has now sickened 50 people in Washington and Oregon. Fourteen people have been hospitalized.
Results of DNA testing performed on samples from 33 of those sickened show they were all sickened by the same strain of shiga-toxin producing E. coli O26. There is also one person in Minnesota who has been sickened by that strain. However, at this time, health officials do not believe this case is related to the outbreak as that person did not eat at a Chipotle before becoming ill.
Health officials have not yet determined the contaminated food source. Tests have been performed on a number of food items. The initial round of tests did not produce any positives for E. coli.
According to a lawsuit filed 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.
State health officials have linked 11 Chipotle restaurants, including six restaurants in Oregon and five in Washington to the outbreak, but the company voluntarily closed all 43 of them in those states on a temporary basis. All locations have since reopened after they were deep-cleaned, sanitized and supplied with all new ingredients that were tested for pathogens before they were stocked. The company says none of its employees in Washington or Oregon had E. coli infections, an indicator that food was contaminated before it entered the restaurants.
Going forward, the company says it will implement new food safety procedures at all of its locations. It has retained two food safety scientists to help assess and improve its food safety standards.
Thirty one of the case patients are form Washington, 19 are from Oregon. The investigation is ongoing.