E. coli outbreak tied to Chipotle grows to 12 Oregon cases, 25 i - KPTV - FOX 12

E. coli outbreak tied to Chipotle grows to 12 Oregon cases, 25 in Washington

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The Oregon Health Advisory reported Tuesday that the number of E. coli cases tied to eating at Chipotle restaurants now stands at 12 in Oregon, up from three cases reported last week.

Dr. Katrina Hedberg, a health officer with the OHA’s Public Health Division, said that three of the cases required patients to be hospitalized, and that the cases found thus far were in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, Benton and Deschutes counties.

Washington health officials said the number of cases in that state has also grown, now standing at 25, coming from Clark, Cowlitz, Island, King and Skagit counties.

The OHA has been working with the Washington State Department of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the investigation into this outbreak, and stated the number of affected people identified may still grow, since not everyone affected by this strain of E. coli may have sought medical attention.

Health officials noted Tuesday they believe they have identified the strain of E. coli causing the illness, and that it likely was on fresh produce, such as tomatoes or lettuce, consumed by customers in the stores.

But as investigators continue trying to pinpoint the exact source, officials worry that a problematic distribution center or farm may still be putting food out to the public.

“Let’s say it turns out it’s some product like lettuce or tomato," Dr. Hedberg said. “If they sell those elsewhere, there may be another case or two that is not associated with Chipotle, but bought their vegetables at a retail market or store.”

Officials are asking anyone who became sick with vomiting and bloody diarrhea after eating at a Chipotle during October to see their doctor and mention the outbreak.

Many patients will develop watery or bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 10 days of exposure to the Shiga toxin from the E. coli strain. Many cases will resolve themselves inside of a week, though some patients, often young children and the elderly, can face more severe kidney issues.

Chipotle has closed at least 14 stores in the Portland area so officials can investigate, and another 29 through out the rest of the Pacific Northwest. According to the Associated Press, company chairman Steve Ellis said the business is also testing restaurants and distribution centers, as well as sanitizing stores, replacing food and testing ingredient batches in their supply chains.

A Kelso, Washington, woman who is claiming to be a victim of the outbreak is suing the Chipotle for $75,000. This is the third outbreak of food-born illness the restaurant chain has faced this year.

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