The Twisted Fork in Reno has closed temporarily during an investigation of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least eight people. The company posted a message on its Facebook page saying the voluntary closure is meant to “give the Washoe County Health District total access and our full cooperation during their investigation to determine a cause.”
The company went on to say, “We are dedicated to the safety and welfare of our guests, and the restaurant will remain closed until the matter is fully resolved. Thank you for understanding.”
Public health officials were notified about the illnesses on November 4. They have not yet released information about the age, gender or county of residence for any of the patients. Nor have they named the outbreak strain, suspected source of contamination, whether any patients were hospitalized or if any of them developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a complication occurring in about 15 percent of E. coli infections that damages red blood cells an leads to kidney failure. It can also cause seizure, stroke, coma and death. HUS most often affects children.
Health officials have said that they don’t believe the outbreak is related to other recent E. coli outbreaks including one in California linked to unpasteurized apple juice and one in Washington and Oregon linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants.
The Chipotle outbreak is caused by the strain E. coli O26 produces shiga toxins that can cause severe, life-threatening illness which can, in some cases, be fatal. Symptoms incude bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting. Anyone with these symptoms should see a doctor.
The outbreak has sickened 19 people in Oregon and 30 in Washington. In Oregon, the cases include people from Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, Linn, and Lane counties. Four of the patients, who range in age from 11 to 74, have been hospitalized.
In Washington, the case patients are from Clark, Cowlitz, Island, King, Skagit, and Whatcom counties. Ten of them have been hospitalized.
A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Washington woman who became ill after eating a burrito bowl she purchased from a Vancouver location on October 21. She developed abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea about three days after the meal.
The E. coli outbreak linked to unpasteurized apple juice is in El Dorado County California. State health officials have found E. coli O111 in a sample of apple juice from High Hill Ranch that matches the strain that has sickened 13 people.
The illnesses occurred in late October. The ranch stopped selling the unpasteurized juice during the investigation.
When unpasteurized juices are sold at grocery stores, farmers markets or other retail outlets, they are required to to be marked with the following:
“WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and therefore may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.” If they are purchased, they need to be kept refrigerated.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require this warning label for juice or cider that is fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass at orchards, farmers markets, roadside stands, or in some restaurants or juice bars. Consumers who stop at roadside stands, markets or juice bars where beverages are sold by the glass should ask if it has been pasteurized.