An E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least six people and hospitalized three, including at least one child, has been linked to Los Chilangos food trucks operating in Washington state. King and Snohomish county public health officials are investigating this outbreak.
The food truck visited seven farmers’ markets in King and Snohomish counties and in Issaquah and Sammamish counties as well. The Los Chilangos food trucks were shut down by King County officials on August 21, 2015.
The report states that the vendor was shut down because they were holding potentially hazardous foods at unsafe temperatures, did not properly cool potentially hazardous foods, and did not protect food from cross contamination. In addition, there were inadequate facilities to control temperature of potentially hazardous food and cold holding. The report also states that continued operation of the facility constitutes an imminent health hazard, and that there is an ongoing investigation of a possible foodborne illness outbreak.
Officials have interviewed the six people who have been infected with the same strain of E. coli bacteria. They all ate food prepared by Los Chilangos. Los Chilangos serves food at seven farmers markets, operates two food trucks, and caters events. The kitchen they use is the Eastside Commercial Kitchen, which is a shared use, or commissary kitchen, used by several vendors.
Inspectors found that the condition of that kitchen deemed it an “imminent health hazard“. The commissary kitchen was issued a cease and desist order on Thursday, August 27, 2015. All food vendors that use that kitchen were told to stop operations.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody, severe abdominal cramps, and a mild fever. If the infection progresses, it can develop into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney loss and death. The symptoms of HUS include fever, lethargy, irritability, low or no urine output, skin rash, easy bruising, pale skin, and jaundice. If these symptoms are present, immediate medical attention is critical and necessary.
If you ate at any Los Chilangos truck or outlet and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. If E. coli infections are treated with antibiotics, they are more likely to develop into HUS.
E. coli infections are contracted from eating or drinking something contaminated with fecal matter, through person-to-person contact, or from eating or drinking something prepared by an ill person. Contact with animals is also a risk for this infection.
Officials are still trying to determine the source of the pathogenic bacteria. Los Chilangos has been cooperating with officials to help solve the outbreak.