Chipotle Says It Won't Close More Restaurants as E. Coli Outbreak Reports Spread to Four More States
The newly reported cases occurred in California, Minnesota, New York and Ohio, according to the CDC
An E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle locations in two states has now spread to four more, with 43 people getting sick after eating at the popular burrito chain, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday.
But Chipotle will not close any more of its restaurants, a company spokesman told PEOPLE in a statement.
“At the moment, we do not believe that it is necessary to close any restaurants because [of] the timing of visits,” Chipotle’s Chris Arnold told PEOPLE. “It’s important to note that, while these incidents are newly reported, they aren’t really new in that exposure was weeks ago.” (The CDC also tells PEOPLE that, at this time, they are not recommending people avoid eating at Chipotle restaurants.)
The newly reported cases occurred in California, Minnesota, New York and Ohio, according to the CDC.
The cases are all linked to Chipotle visits that occurred either between Oct. 13 and Oct. 30 or on Nov. 6, Arnold said.
Forty-five people have fallen ill with the E. coli O26 strain and 43 of those reported eating at Chipotle in the week before, according to the CDC.
Sixteen people have been hospitalized but no one has died, according to the CDC.
A majority of the 45 total cases occurred in Washington, according to the CDC: Two have been in California, two in Minnesota, one in New York, one in Ohio, 13 in Oregon and 26 in Washington.
The ages of those infected range from 2 to 94, according to the CDC.
People usually become sick three to four days after ingesting E. coli O26 (also known at STEC O26), according to the CDC. Common symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
Though investigators have yet to determine the source of the outbreak, Arnold said ingredients that would have been at the effected locations during the visits are no longer there.
Evidence suggests a “common meal item or ingredient” is the outbreak’s source, according to the CDC.
“We have implemented a number measures in these restaurants,” Arnold said in the statement, “including additional deep cleaning, replacing ingredients, providing supply chain data to investigators, and surveying crew members to determine if any were sick stemming from this.”
No employees have reported becoming sick with E. coli, he said.
Chipotle previously closed 43 locations in Oregon and Washington out of an “abundance of caution” following E. coli cases in late October linked to six of its locations in the Portland, Oregon, and Seattle areas.
Those locations have reopened, according to the Associated Press.
The burrito chain has expanded aggressively, in part on the success of its appeal as a fresh and healthy restaurant with the slogan: “Food with integrity.”
But the recent outbreaks have sent share prices dropping by more than 10 percent, according to Reuters.
“We are working with health department officials to determine the cause of this issue,” Arnold said in a previous statement to PEOPLE. “We offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by this situation.”
A Seattle-area mother told Reuters at one Chipotle location that she was concerned about outbreak, but she ultimately decided to purchase a burrito with her son.
“I hesitated. I don’t want to get sick,” she said. “It was convenience. It’s right there.”
• Reporting by MARIA MERCEDES LARA