Costco E. Coli Outbreak Update: 19 People Sick So Far, Will This Be Worse Than The Chipotle E. Coli Outbreak?

A new E. coli outbreak is affecting giant wholesale club Costco. As of Tuesday, 19 people in seven states have become ill due to an E. coli infection linked to the membership club.

In a previous Inquisitr report, chicken salad bought at Costco is believed by health authorities to be the source of a new E. coli outbreak. Cases have been reported in seven states, but most of the infections have been limited to Colorado, Washington, Utah, and Montana.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently believes the outbreak is directly linked to Costco.

“The epidemiologic evidence available at this time suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is a likely source of this outbreak.”

However, the CDC says no particular ingredient in the chicken salad has been identified as the cause of the new E. coli outbreak as of yet. Costco is collaborating with the CDC and state health officials to track down the specific source.

Health experts with CDC investigating Costco chicken salad.
New E. coli outbreak being investigated by CDC. [Photo by Gavin Averill/Getty Images]

Health authorities have identified at least 19 people infected with E. coli so far. However, only 14 people have confirmed that they got sick a week after buying the contaminated Costco chicken salad. Although no one has died, five people have been hospitalized and two have been diagnosed with Hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.

CNN reports that four people in Colorado have been affected by the Costco E. coli outbreak. Fortunately, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed all have since recovered.

The Washington State Department of Health says they have one definite case in King County. The person was not hospitalized, but the agency is taking the matter very seriously. They are working with other government health authorities to determine the source of the E. coli in the state.

Earlier this month, an E. coli outbreak triggered the closure of more than 40 Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants across the nation. The strain of E. coli found in the Costco chicken salad is different from the one that affected the 43 Chipotle customers. Yet, any form of E. coli bacteria can be dangerous.

The Chipotle outbreak is still under investigation. Officials believe a produce item distributed to the restaurants in mid-October is likely the source of contamination. Investigators are currently working with Chipotle suppliers to narrow down the possibilities.

The CDC estimates 48 million Americans become ill every year from food-borne diseases. Through interviews with patients, health authorities can sometimes trace the source of the sickness. However, due to variables like location and time of eating, the cause is often never confirmed.

E. coli is a very common bacteria and oftentimes harmless. Yet, the bacteria can also mutate and cause serious illness in humans.

People sick with E. coli generally start feeling symptoms within two to eight days. Indicators of an infection include dehydration, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Most people recover within one week, yet symptoms can last much longer. If left untreated, the infection could lead to more serious health complications such as kidney failure. Children and the elderly are especially susceptible.

Chicken salad made by Costco subject to recall due to E. coli bacteria.
Costco chicken salad linked to E. coli outbreak. [Image via Shuttershock]

The CDC says any rotisserie chicken salad bought on or before November 20 from any Costco in the U.S. should be thrown away immediately. The CDC is also advising that consumers dispose of the product even if no one has gotten sick after eating it.

The CDC strongly recommends that if someone feels any symptoms of E. coli infection after eating Costco chicken salad, they should see a doctor right away.

NBC News has confirmed that the Costco chicken salad is no longer being made and has been removed from store shelves.

Although this E. coli outbreak has only affected a handful of people so far, investigating officials wonder if this outbreak may get worse. In the coming days as more and more E. coli cases get linked to contaminated Costco chicken salad, this new outbreak has the potential to become more widespread than the Chipotle outbreak earlier this month.

[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]