The Chipotle E. Coli Outbreak Is Not Over & It Might Have Spread To Your State Now

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Chipotle-linked E. coli outbreak has now reached six states: Minnesota, California, New York, Oregon, Ohio, and Washington. The popular Mexican fast food restaurant chain has been the subject of some concern for more than a month now — back in early November, news broke that 22 people had been sickened with E. coli in Washington and Oregon, prompting the sudden closures of many Chipotle locations across the Pacific Northwest. Now, the CDC says that the outbreak has widened, and that their analysis suggests that a "common meal item or ingredient" is to blame.

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.

According to their update, a total of 45 people have been confirmed infected by the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli strain, with the vast majority of the infections concentrated between Washington and Oregon, where the outbreak was first observed. This latest news raises some broader concerns, however — with linked infections in states as far-flung as Minnesota, New York, and Ohio, this doesn't seem to be strictly a regional problem anymore.

In a statement to Bustle, the CDC says:

At this time, we are not recommending that consumers avoid eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in the U.S. While the number of states involved in this outbreak has grown, the vast majority of illnesses were reported in a short time period in October; it is likely that whatever contaminated food item or ingredient was served in the affected Chipotle restaurants is no longer in stores. We are continuing to investigate and will reevaluate our advice to consumers if we receive information that indicates an ongoing risk to the public.

It's also having an apparently devastating effect on Chipotle's stock value. In the immediate aftermath of the update on Friday afternoon, its price plummeted more than nine percent, from about $600 per share, to just under $560 per share according to MarketWatch. That price had stood at $640 per share at the end of October, just before reports of the outbreak hit.

According to the CDC's website, which is a vital follow if you're ever concerned about a disease outbreak in your neck of the woods, they're still not precisely sure what item or ingredient is responsible for the infections, although an investigation is still ongoing. If you're curious or concerned about E. coli, either for yourself or a loved one, you should be aware of the basic symptoms the CDC describes:

  • People usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) 2-8 days (average of 3-4 days) after swallowing the organism (germ).Most people infected with STEC develop diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps. Most people recover within a week.
  • Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).HUS can occur in people of any age, but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of HUS can include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, and decreased urination. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Luckily, E. coli is not commonly life-threatening, but it is a serious infection. At present, only 16 of the 45 infected individuals have had to be hospitalized, and there haven't been any deaths. The CDC also says that Chipotle is cooperating with them throughout the investigation, trying to help them understand the "distribution of food items served at locations where ill people ate."