CDC investigates E.coli outbreak in several states

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File Photo

(Reuters) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several other U.S. agencies are investigating an E.coli outbreak in five states, the CDC said on Friday.

The CDC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and several states are investigating the outbreak of toxin-producing E.coli O103 infections.

Escherichia coli, or E.coli bacteria, normally lives in the intestines of healthy people and animals. Although many strains of the bacteria are harmless, certain strains can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia are the five states that have reported E.coli infections relating to particular strain of the bacteria.

As many as 72 people from these states have reported infections and eight have been hospitalized as of April 4, 2019, the agency said. No deaths were reported.

The investigation is still going on and the reason for the outbreak is yet to be identified, the agency said.

(Reporting by Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)

Don’t eat romaine: U.S., Canada warn on E.coli in lettuce

FILE PHOTO - Romaine lettuce grows near Soledad, California, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Fiala

(Reuters) – Public health officials in the United States and Canada on Tuesday warned against eating romaine lettuce while they investigate an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened 50 people in the two countries, including 13 who were hospitalized.

The alerts, issued as millions of Americans plan their Thanksgiving Day menus, covered all forms of romaine, including whole heads, hearts, bags, mixes and Caesar salad.

Officials were uncertain of the source of the tainted lettuce.

“Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said in its food safety alert.

Refrigerator drawers and shelves where romaine lettuce had been stored should be sanitized, the CDC said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, which is investigating 18 of the E. coli cases, directed its romaine lettuce alert at consumers in Ontario and Quebec.

In the United States, the CDC said the outbreak affected 32 people in 11 states between Oct. 8 and 31. No deaths have been reported, it said.

Symptoms of the infection often include a moderate fever, severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea, which is often bloody, the CDC said. Most people get better in five to seven days, but it can be life-threatening, it said.

The agency said the current outbreak is unrelated to another multi-state rash of E. coli infections related to romaine lettuce earlier this year that left five people dead and sickened nearly 200.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC traced the origin of that contamination to irrigation water in the Yuma, Arizona, growing region.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

Chipotle E. Coli outbreaks appear to be over, CDC says

Two E. Coli outbreaks linked to Chipotle restaurants appear to be over, officials said Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it still doesn’t know what specific ingredient was behind the outbreaks, though it hasn’t received word of any illnesses since Dec. 1.

The CDC said 60 people in 14 states fell ill last October and November, and 22 were hospitalized. The organization interviewed 59 of those people, and 52 of them said they had eaten at Chipotle.

The CDC collected food from several Chipotle restaurants, though none of its tests showed signs of the bacteria. The organization said a food source is only identified in 46 percent of outbreaks, and it can be hard to determine the exact item responsible for the illnesses in cases where restaurants cook several ingredients together and serve them in different menu items.

According to the CDC, the first E. Coli outbreak affected 55 people in Washington, Oregon, California, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New York Ohio and Pennsylvania. The second outbreak, which featured a different strain of the bacteria, sickened five people in Kansas, Oklahoma and North Dakota. None of the 60 people died or developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure that sometimes occurs following E. Coli infections.

Chipotle has said it has since implemented new food safety protocols, and announced earlier this month that it will close all of its restaurants for four hours on Feb. 8 for a food safety meeting.

The outbreaks were just a part of the recent struggles for Chipotle.

The restaurant also told investors earlier this month that it was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in connection with an “isolated norovirus incident” in August at a California restaurant. The same message indicated a norovirus outbreak in December at a Boston restaurant “worsened the adverse financial and operating impacts” Chipotle experienced from the E. Coli outbreaks.

Norovirus and E. Coli are both foodborne illnesses that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps, according to the CDC.

Chipotle’s stock was trading at $750.42 on Oct. 13, near an all-time high, but tumbled to $404.26 on Jan. 12 amid the E. Coli and norovirus concerns. That was a 54 percent drop.

The stock has rebounded slightly and was trading at $472.64 on Monday afternoon.

Chipotle hit with federal subpoena over California norovirus outbreak

(Reuters) – Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc <CMG.N>, under scrutiny for months over outbreaks of foodborne illness across several U.S. states, said on Wednesday it was served with a subpoena in a federal criminal probe linked to a norovirus case in California last year.

Shares of the burrito chain fell more than 5 percent to $424.95, their lowest in more than two years, as the Denver-based company grapples with a wave of norovirus and E. coli outbreaks that have sickened customers and battered sales.

The company in a filing also projected a 14.6 percent plunge in fourth-quarter same-store sales, compared with a previously estimated 8-11 percent drop, which would be the first such decline in the company’s history.

Chipotle said it received the subpoena as a part of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Food and Drug Administration. A federal grand jury will decide whether to press charges in the case.

Norovirus is the leading cause of food-related illnesses and outbreaks in the United States, often occurring when infected restaurant employees and food workers touch raw ingredients before serving. The highly contagious virus can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

The investigation announced on Wednesday is the latest headache for the company, which has seen sales slump after an E. coli outbreak sickened more than 50 people in nine states in October and November.

That outbreak was followed by a norovirus incident at a restaurant in Brighton, Massachusetts the week of Dec. 7, in which 120 Boston College students fell ill.

BROAD RANGE OF DOCUMENTS

Chipotle said the subpoena was served in December. It requires the company to produce a broad range of documents related to the August norovirus incident at its restaurant in Simi Valley, California, which sickened more than 200 people, including 18 workers.

In September, two California residents sued Chipotle for damages in U.S. court after they said they became sick from eating at the Simi Valley location.

Alyssa McDonald vomited repeatedly, developed “explosive diarrhea,” and suffered chest pains after eating at restaurant, according to court documents. Another customer said she had to go to a hospital emergency room for days.

The Ventura County Health Department found her stool tested positive for norovirus, the lawsuit said.

Ventura County health official Doug Beach said his office was interviewed by the FDA and U.S. Attorney’s office in the fall. Authorities, he said, focused their lines of enquiry squarely on Chipotle.

A federal investigation into a one-restaurant outbreak is surprising since there wasn’t a clear interstate element, said Bill Marler, a Seattle-based lawyer who is representing customers saying they were sickened in Simi Valley.

The FDA declined to comment specifically on the investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment, as did Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold.

Chipotle said same-store sales were trending down 16 percent at the onset of December but fell 34 percent after the Brighton incident and the subsequent national media attention it garnered.

Overall same-restaurant sales for December were down 30 percent, the company said.

Any more incremental bad news, particularly if there is an unfavorable decision from the grand jury, could trigger consideration among shareholders of a management change, Maxim Group analyst Stephen Anderson said.

The company, which also announced a $300 million share buyback, said it will fully cooperate with the probe.

The company’s shares have fallen nearly 30 percent since Oct. 31, when the first E. coli outbreak was reported.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru, Sarah N. Lynch in Washington, and Tom Polansek in Chicago; Writing and additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Don Sebastian and Meredith Mazzilli)

Boston College Students Fall Ill, Investigators Probe Link to Chipotle E. Coli Outbreak

Investigators were reportedly trying to determine if the illnesses that several Boston College students reported after eating at a Chipotle were tied to an E. Coli outbreak at the restaurant.

The Boston Herald, quoting a statement from a school spokesman, reported Monday that “several” Boston College students complained of gastrointestinal symptoms after eating at a Chipotle restaurant. The newspaper reported the state’s Department of Public Health was notified and was examining whether the illnesses were linked to Chipotle’s recent E. Coli scare.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 52 people in nine states have come down with one particular type of E. Coli since October. The CDC said that 47 of those people said they ate at a Chipotle restaurant in the week leading up to the onset of their illness.

In a statement to Reuters, a Chipotle spokesman said there wasn’t any evidence that the Boston College illnesses were related to the E. Coli outbreak. The spokesman said in the statement that there have not been any confirmed cases of the illness linked to Chipotle in Massachusetts.

Still, Boston television station WCVB reported that the Chipotle restaurant where the Boston College students ate was closed pending an investigation from Boston Inspectional Services. The television station placed the number of students who fell ill after eating at Chipotle at 30.

According to the CDC, there have been documented cases of the Chipotle-linked E. Coli strain in Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland. The CDC said 20 people were hospitalized, but there were no reports of any deaths.

There were 40 cases in Washington (27) and Oregon (13), the CDC reported, and Chipotle voluntarily closed all of its 43 restaurants in the Seattle and Portland, Oregon, markets after the outbreaks were first reported. The company said all of those restaurants have since reopened.

It’s still not known what particular food item is responsible for the outbreak. Chipotle said in a news release on Friday that it has increased food safety practices since the outbreak first began.

The company’s stocks were trading at $750.42 in mid-October, which was near an all-time high. They have fallen more than $200 in the weeks since and were trading at $544.51 early Tuesday.

E. Coli symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal cramps. The disease can sometimes lead to kidney failure, but there haven’t been any reported cases in the outbreak.

The E. Coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants deals with a different type of the bacteria than the one that has been connected to a rotisserie chicken salad sold in Costco stores.

Recalled vegetables linked to E. Coli outbreak at Costco stores

A tainted mix of celery and onions appears to be at fault for a multi-state E. Coli outbreak.

Taylor Farms Pacific recalled a list of products on Thursday after a link to the outbreak tied to Costco stores was discovered, according to a notice on the Food & Drug Administration website.

The California-based manufacturer produced a diced-vegetable mix that tested positive for E. Coli, according to the posting. It was used in a rotisserie chicken salad that was sold at Costco.

The vast majority of the 19 people infected with the bacteria reported buying or eating the salad before they got sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infections have been reported in Montana, Utah, California, Washington, Colorado, Missouri and Virginia.

The recall is being conducted “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the FDA.

Costco has stopped selling and producing the salad, the CDC noted. It encourages anyone who bought the product to throw it out, even if some has been eaten and no one has fallen ill.

The particular strain of E. Coli bacteria associated with the Costco outbreak is known to be deadly.

Reuters reported it’s the same one to blame for the 1993 outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants. Four children died and hundreds more became sick after eating undercooked hamburgers.

No deaths have been reported this time, but the CDC says five people have been hospitalized and two people have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Children Infected With E-Coli At Pumpkin Farm

Three children visiting the petting zoo at a Minnesota pumpkin farm ended up with E. Coli infections according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

All three children are from the Twin Cities area and range in age from 15 months to 7 years. The Department of Health confirmed that all three have the same strain of E. Coli.

One child is still hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication that can result in kidney failure. The other two children did not require admission to a hospital.

Investigators say all the children had contact with goats or cattle. Two other cases of symptoms similar to E. Coli have been reported but not confirmed by the Department of Health.

The health department says the farm is cooperating with the investigation and has closed public access.

Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Warns of “Catastrophic Threat” From Superbugs

Britain’s chief medical officer is warning that the world could find itself “in a health system not dissimilar to the early 19th century at some point” as more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.

Dame Sally Davies is calling for urgent action not only in the UK but around the world. She reported a worldwide increase in e coli and klebsiella, which causes pneumonia. Continue reading