SEATTLE — Health officials expect the number of people sickened
by an E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants in
Washington state and Oregon to grow while they investigate the
cause of the infection.
As of Friday, three people in the Portland area and 19 people in
western Washington had become sick from E. coli. Seventeen of
them had eaten at a Chipotle restaurant during the past few
Eight people have been hospitalized but no deaths have been
After people started hearing about the outbreak, more people
will probably go to the doctor and join the list of potential
cases, said Marisa D'Angeli, medical epidemiologist with the
Washington State Department of Health.
"We actually would expect there might be a jump in cases on
Monday," she said.
D'Angeli encouraged anyone who has been sick with intestinal
symptoms and has eaten at Chipotle since mid-October, to go see
their doctor and get tested. She also said anyone with bloody
diarrhea should go to the doctor whether they have eaten at
Chipotle or not.
"We're very early in the investigation," D'Angeli said. It's
possible their investigation will find that the E. coli came
from a fresh food product delivered to Chipotle restaurants and
Everyone who comes forward helps in providing extra clues that
could help identify the source of the infection, she said.
The investigation started with talking to everyone diagnosed
with E. coli and finding out what they ate and where. Test
samples from those individuals will go to state labs in
Washington and Oregon.
Then samples of food from the restaurants will be tested at a
U.S. Food and Drug Administration laboratory to see if bacteria
from the food matches the human cases.
D'Angeli noted that Chipotle has been cooperative and
voluntarily shut down all its restaurants in the two states.
The reopening of the 43 Chipotle restaurants in Oregon and
Washington will be dictated by the investigation, said company
spokesman Chris Arnold. "Right now, that is the priority," he
The company has not made plans to close any other restaurants in
other states as there is no evidence of a link to other
restaurants, Arnold added.
People have reported symptoms of infection in Clackamas and
Washington counties in Oregon, and Clark, King, Skagit and
Cowlitz counties in Washington.