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Chipotle stores closes in Washington and Oregon due to E. coli scare

Update Date: Nov 02, 2015 08:35 AM EST

Chipotle has temporarily closed dozens of its restaurants in Washington and Oregon due to E. coli scare.

Washington State Department of Health said that no one has died in the reported cases of infection. Seven of the Washington patients and one Oregon patient were hospitalized.

The source of the infection has yet to be determined but 9 cases in Washington and three cases in Oregon have been linked to the Mexican-themed restaurant chain. Because of this, Chipotle has temporarily closed 43 of its stores.

"We immediately closed all of our restaurants in the area out of an abundance of caution, even though the vast majority of these restaurants have no reported problems," said Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold.

Infections with Escherichia coli can cause severe stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea which is often bloody. Infections can range from mild to life-threatening. "Infections start...when you get tiny (usually invisible) amounts of human or animal feces in your mouth," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

E. coli bacteria are commonly found in human and animal intestines and are a key component of healthy digestion. Most are harmless but some are not. Common sources of infection are human and animal contact in the farming industry. In April, at least 25 people was ill with E. coli infections after visiting a dairy fair in Washington state.

Harmful E. coli can also make its way into food ingredients. Food handlers carrying harmful E. coli can also pass it on by not washing their hands properly before handling food.

The CDC has investigated more than 20 major E. coli outbreaks since 2007. Other common food-borne ailments are caused by Listeria and Salmonella bacteria.

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