Following 22 cases of E. coli that have been reportedly associated with Chipotle, the burrito chain has closed 43 of its restaurants in Oregon and Washington.
Although no deaths have been reported from the outbreak, a news release from the Washington State Department of Health reveals that eight of these cases have led to hospitalizations. “Local and state health officials in Washington and Oregon are investigating” the outbreak, the statement said.
Despite the outbreak being associated with six of its restaurants, Chipotle has closed down all of its outlets as a precautionary measure.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our highest priority,” company spokesperson, Chris Arnold, said, People reports. “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.”
According to NBC News, Arnold, confirming the shuttering of 43 of the burrito chain’s restaurants, said that the “reopening schedule will be driven by progress of the investigation.”
E. coli, or Escherichia coli, is a bacterium present in the gut of humans and other animals; and although the contamination are not severely harmful, they can cause sickness – like cramps and diarrhea.
Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist, said, “Anyone who thinks they may have become ill from eating at a Chipotle restaurant in the past three weeks should consult their healthcare provider. The elderly and very young children are more likely to become severely ill from this kind of E. coli infection.”