E. coli Strain in Outbreak Linked to Chipotle Not Most Severe, Authorities Say
Authorities have identified the strain of E. coli in an outbreak
linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and it isn't the most severe
form of the bacteria, Oregon's state health officer said
The number of people sickened in Oregon in the outbreak has
increased to 12 from an earlier count of four, officials said
Tuesday. Another 19 people in Washington had reported becoming sick
in the outbreak as of Monday, including seven who were
Three people in Oregon have been hospitalized after experiencing
bloody diarrhea, but the outbreak hasn't so far resulted in the
kind of kidney failure that more severe E. coli strains can cause,
said Katrina Hedberg, state health officer with the Oregon Health
Authority's public health division.
Dr. Hedberg said some of those affected could have gotten ill
from E. coli that isn't related to this outbreak, but that 90% of
the people who have been interviewed reported having eaten at a
Chipotle in October.
Authorities believe fresh produce is the likely culprit, but the
exact source of the contamination hasn't been identified, and it is
unclear if the contamination occurred at the farm level or at a
Chipotle distribution center, she said.
Food samples from the Chipotle restaurants in the Portland and
Seattle areas have been sent to a Food and Drug Administration lab
in Washington for testing. If the product source can be identified,
the FDA will seek to trace it back to the farm, Dr. Hedberg
Dr. Hedberg said she believed that the hospitalized patients in
Oregon had been discharged.
Although eight restaurants in the Seattle and Portland areas
have been implicated in the E. coli outbreak, Chipotle closed all
43 restaurants in the area as a precautionary measure.
"Reopening timing will be determined largely by the pace and
progress of the investigation. Right now, that is our top priority
and we are continuing to offer our full cooperation as the
investigation continues," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said in
The number of cases is likely to grow. "We are continuing to get
reports from people who suspect they were sickened," including from
people outside the Portland and Seattle metropolitan areas, Dr.
She said there is a chance health officials won't be able to
determine the source of the contamination but that "We're working
fast and furious on this."
Write to Julie Jargon at email@example.com
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 03, 2015 18:15 ET (23:15 GMT)
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