According to Delaware County Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson, although food samples tested negative for C. perfringens bacteria, the stool samples tested positive for the toxin that C. perfringens forms in the gastrointestinal tract.

A specific food has not been able to be identified as the source of illness. Ongoing food and stool testing is being conducted by the CDC lab.

“I am extremely proud of our team! This investigation included countless hours of phone calls and interviews along with multiple inspections. We are also appreciative of our community for being very cooperative during this investigation and for understanding our work in protecting the public’s health. We are also thankful for the work of our partners at the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC,” said Delaware County Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson.

In response to this outbreak, Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill stated that “Chipotle Field Leadership will be retraining all restaurant employees nationwide beginning next week on food safety and wellness protocols.” Click here for complete statement.

Health District staff identified 647 people who self-reported gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming food from the Chipotle on Sawmill Parkway between Thursday July 26 – Monday July 30, 2018.

What is Clostridium Perfringens?

Clostridium perfringens are bacteria that produce toxins harmful to humans. Clostridium perfringens and its toxins are found everywhere in the environment, but human infection is most likely to come from eating food with Clostridium perfringens in it. Food poisoning from Clostridium perfringens fairly common, but is typically not too severe, and is often mistaken for the 24-hour flu.

The majority of outbreaks are associated with undercooked meats, often in large quantities of food prepared for a large group of people and left to sit out for long periods of time. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as the “food service germ.” Meat products such as stews, casseroles, and gravy are the most common sources of illness from C. perfringens. Most outbreaks come from food whose temperature is poorly controlled. If food is kept between 70 and 140 F, it is likely to grow Clostridium perfringens bacteria.

People generally experience symptoms of Clostridium perfringens infection 6 to 24 hours after consuming the bacteria or toxins. Clostridium perfringens toxins cause abdominal pain and stomach cramps, followed by diarrhea. Nausea is also a common symptom. Fever and vomiting are not normally symptoms of poisoning by Clostridium perfringens toxins.

Illness from Clostridium perfringens generally lasts around 24 hours, and is rarely fatal.

The Type C strain of Clostridium perfringens can cause a more serious condition called Pig-bel Syndrome. This syndrome can cause death of intestinal cells and can often be fatal.

To prevent infection by Clostridium perfringens, follow the these tips:

  • Cook foods containing meat thoroughly
  • If keeping foods out, make sure they maintain a temperature of 140 F (60 C)
  • When storing food in the refrigerator, divide it into pieces with a thickness of three inches or less so that it cools faster
  • Reheat foods to at least 165 F (74 C)

References

“Clostridium perfringens.” Illinois Department of Public Health. Available at http://www.idph.state.il.us/Bioterrorism/factsheets/clostridium.htm.

Rohrs, Barbara. “Clostridium perfringens.” Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences. Available at http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5568.html.