Chipotle E. coli O26 Outbreak Grows

The CDC released new numbers on the Chipotle E. coli O26 outbreak. As of December 4, 2015, 52 people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O26 have been reported from 9 states:

California (3), Illinois (1), Maryland (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), Ohio (3), Oregon (13), Pennsylvania (1), and Washington (27).

Most of the reported cases were from Washington and Oregon during October 2015.

Chipotle Lawsuit Filed

Our law firm filed the first lawsuit against Chipotle for E. coli O26 on November 2, 2015.  At the time, there were 22 confirmed cases.

Our client ate a burrito bowl on October 21, 2015, at the Chipotle restaurant located at 7715 NE 5th Avenue, #109, Vancouver, Washington. Four days later, suffering from severe nausea and bloody diarrhea, she sought medical treatment. Tests determined she had an E. coli infection, and genetic testing called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) connected her case to the Chipotle outbreak.

Our attorneys can be contacted using our free consultation form. People sickened and parents of children sickened can get help understanding their legal rights.

The pain associated with an E. coli O26 infection is extreme. It can take weeks or months to be healthy enough to return to work. Complications like colitis are possible, and these can cause permanent harm. In addition, everyone sickened in the outbreak is at risk for future kidney problems.

Outbreak Investigation

The people sickened in the outbreak started getting sick on dates ranging from October 19, 2015 to November 13, 2015. Illnesses that occurred after November 11, 2015 might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks.

We are expecting this outbreak to grow.

Ill people range in age from 1 year to 94, with a median age of 21. Twenty (38%) people reported being hospitalized.

State and local public health officials continue to interview ill people to obtain information about foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before their illness started. The epidemiologic evidence available at this time suggests that a common meal item or ingredient served at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in several states is a likely source of this outbreak.

  • 47 (90%) of 52 ill people interviewed reported eating at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in the week before their illness started.
  • The investigation has not identified what specific food is linked to illness (those sickened can still sue Chipotle).

Of the three most recent illnesses reported in November, only one ill person, whose illness started on November 10, reported eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill in the week before their illness began.

Investigators are also using whole genome sequencing (WGS), an advanced laboratory technique, to get more information about the DNA fingerprint of the STEC O26 bacteria causing illness. To date, whole genome sequencing has been performed on STEC O26 isolates from 21 ill people in Washington (16), California (2), Minnesota (2), and New York (1). All 21 isolates were highly related genetically to one another. This provides additional evidence that illnesses outside the Pacific Northwest are related to the illnesses in Oregon and Washington.

WGS provides a complete DNA make-up of E. coli isolates from human stool and from food and environmental samples gathered at food processing plants, restaurants and other locations thought connected to an outbreak. The DNA data obtained with WGS confirms that illnesses are connected and helps pinpoint the location of the source of the outbreak.

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Category: Food Poisoning
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