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5 Things to Know about the Chipotle E. coli Outbreak in Washington and Oregon

Update Date: Nov 04, 2015 10:37 AM EST
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Chipotle is determined to get to the bottom of the E coli outbreak that has affected 37 people. The Mexican-chain, which closed down 43 locations in Washington state and Oregon as a precaution, has been working with health officials over the past few days.

Here are 5 things you should know about the outbreak:

1. Chipotle Hires Consultants

Chipotle has hired food-safety consultants that will be conducting environmental tests as well as batch testing ingredients. All 43 stores are reportedly being scrubbed clean. The tests that chipotle will carry out are being done on top of the ones that health officials will be conducting.

Despite being linked to the outbreak, health officials have not officially stated that the cases were directly caused by food eaten at a chipotle location.

2. Plan of Action

Health officials working with chipotle will be matching the specific strain of E. coli to foods and the affected people. They already know that the microorganism that is responsible is E. coli O26. Officials strongly believe that they will find the same strain on the fresh produce used by chipotle.

In the meantime, none of the locations will be reopening.

3. The numbers

There are currently 37 confirmed cases of E. coli within the two regions, which is up from 22, which was reported on Monday, Nov. 2. 25 of the cases are in Washington and the remaining 12 have been reported in the Portland area of Oregon. An additional 25 cases are being looked at. At least 12 of the people affected by the bacteria have been hospitalized.

The number of stores that have been linked to the bacteria increased from six to eight.

There have been zero deaths.

4. Lawsuits

A woman from Washington has filed a lawsuit. The victim, Charmaine Mode, is claiming that the burrito bowl she ate at a chipotle store caused her to fall ill. She is reportedly seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

More lawsuits are expected to be filed against the chain.

5. Chipotle's Statement

"We work with a number of very fresh ingredients in order to serve our customers the highest-quality, best-tasting food we can," co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Ells said in the statement via Bloomberg. "If there are opportunities to do better, we will push ourselves to find them and enhance our already high standards for food safety. Our deepest sympathies go out to those who have been affected by this situation and it is our greatest priority to ensure the safety of all of the food we serve and maintain our customers' confidence in eating at Chipotle."

Certain strains of the bacterium, E. coli can lead to food poisoning. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever

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