Chipotle Temporarily Shuts Down 43 Stores after E. coli Outbreak
Chipotle announced that it has closed down 43 stores due to an E. coli outbreak that has led to several hospitalizations. There have been no deaths reported.
The popular restaurant chain that serves Mexican food has been linked to 17 cases of E. coli. There have been a total of 22 cases of E. coli. According to the Washington State Department of Health's news release, eight people have been hospitalized with one of the patients being from Oregon.
After the cases were reported, Chipotle decided to temporarily close down 43 locations in Washington and Oregon as a precaution. The company is currently working with the health department to determine how the outbreak started.
Chipotle's spokesman, Chris Arnold, issued this statement (per NBC News):
"The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our highest priority. After being notified by health department officials in the Seattle and Portland, Oregon, areas that they were investigating approximately 20 cases of E. coli, including people who ate at six of our restaurants in those areas, 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. We are working with health department officials to determine the cause of this issue. We offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by this situation."
Portland resident, Chris Collins, told CNN affiliate KATU that he went to an urgent care center two days after eating at a Chipotle. He was sent to the emergency room.
"I've never gotten sick like this," he said. "The excruciating pain in my abdomen was something I've never experienced. It feels like your guts are being ripped out."
The number of cases is expected to increase throughout the investigation. Marisa D'Angeli, medical epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health, believes that more people who might not be feeling well will be seeking out medical care once they hear about the outbreak.
"We actually would expect there might be a jump in cases on Monday," she noted.
The investigation will determine whether or not any of the 43 locations will be reopened. The investigators believe that the bacteria most likely came from fresh produce.
People who have eaten at a Chipotle since mid-October and are dealing with intestinal issues should see their doctor. Symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.