Toxigenic E. Coli Illness Linked to Chipotle Restaurants in Oregon and Washington

By on 5:16 AM

Dozens of people have been infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli after eating at Chipotle restaurants in the metro Portland, Oregon, area and various locations in Washington state. 

Chipotle has temporarily closed more than 40 locations as it works to determine the cause of the more than 20 infections.

The incubation period is 1-10 days, with an average of 3-4. Bloody diarrhea (indicative of invasion into the bowel) with vomiting is highly suggestive of E. coli invasion. Persons experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical assistance.

Toxin-producing E. coli can lead to kidney failure with resultant fatalities, mainly among young children (under age 5) and the elderly. Outbreaks over the years have indicated that this can be a serious public health threat. This latest outbreak has resulted in about one-third of affected patients requiring hospitalization to treat the symptoms.

General information regarding Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, including how to avoid contaminating food, can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/ecoli/general/index.html.

Infection Control Consulting Services (ICCS) provides expert infection control and prevention services to organizations nationwide. Services include consulting for mitigation of food contamination, foodborne illness prevention, risk assessment, outbreak investigations and customized educational programs.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.