Chipotle Closes In Washington, Oregon Over E. Coli Cases

All Chipotle Meixcan Grill locations have been closed in Washington and Oregon after an E. coli outbreak was linked to the Mexican-themed restaurant chain.

According to CNN, a total of 43 Chipotle restaurants have been temporarily closed. Reportedly, 19 cases of E. coli in Washington and three cases in Oregon have been linked to the restaurant, with seven of the Washington patients and one of the Oregon patients having to be hospitalized. So far, no deaths have been reported with the outbreak.

Six locations are being investigated, but the exact location of the contamination has yet to be found. Cases have been reported in Clackamas and Washington counties in Oregon, and Clark, King, Skagit and Cowlitz counties in Washington.

“While the outbreak appears to be linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants, the food or other source of contamination hasn’t yet been determined and remains under investigation,” the Washington Department of Health said in a statement.

Because they do not know where the outbreak originated, “out of an abundance of caution,” the Denver-based company decided to close all of their restaurants in Washington and Oregon for the time being. The restaurant chain issued a statement explaining their decision.

“The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our highest priority. After being notified by health department officials in the Seattle and Portland 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.”

Jonathan Modie, a spokesman with the Oregon Health Authority, said many of those who have fallen ill may not seek medical treatment, so the number of those affected is likely hire than what is being reported, according to the San Francisco Gate. Modie is urging anyone who ate at Chipotle between Oct. 14 and 23, and who has started experiencing symptoms, to make an appointment with their doctors.

E. coli is the name of a bacteria that lives in the intestines of humans and animals. While some forms of E. coli can be very mild, others can cause bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, urinary tract infections, and even death, according to Web MD. E. coli is transmitted when someone comes into contact with human or animal feces. Often times, this happens when someone eats or drinks something that is contaminated by feces.

The most common way people contract E. coli in the United States is by eating under-cooked meat. If raw meat is not cooked to 160°F (71°C), the bacteria can live in the meat and can infect those who eat it. Raw milk and dairy products can also become contaminated with E. coli, along with raw fruits and vegetables. Health officials say the best defense against E. coli is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water to kill the bacteria.

Chipotle currently operates more than 1,700 restaurants in the United States and elsewhere. The Washington and Oregon restaurants will remain closed until the health authorities determine where the outbreak originated.

[Photo by Susan Montgomery /]

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