The Washington State Department of Health and the Oregon Health Authority are investigating an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O26 (STEC O26) infections. CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are assisting with the investigation.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of these outbreaks. PulseNet, the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories, is coordinated by CDC. DNA “fingerprinting” is performed on E. coli bacteria isolated from ill people by using a technique called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE. PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks.

As of November 4, 2015, one DNA fingerprint (outbreak strain) of STEC O26 is included in this outbreak investigation. Five isolates from ill people in Washington (2) and Oregon (3) have been uploaded to the CDC PulseNet database. All five people were infected with STEC O26 that has the same DNA fingerprint. CDC conducted a preliminary search of the PulseNet database and did not find any illnesses that appear to be related to the outbreak in Washington and Oregon. Laboratory testing is continuing.

As reported by Washington and Oregon, 39 ill people have been reported from Washington (29) and Oregon (10) as of November 4, 2015. Fourteen total ill people in Washington (11) and Oregon (3) have been hospitalized. There have been no reports of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and no deaths.

Washington and Oregon report that most of the ill people ate at several locations of Chipotle Mexican Grill before getting sick. The investigation is ongoing to determine if the ill people ate a common meal item or ingredient that was served at the restaurant locations. Chipotle Mexican Grill voluntarily closed all of its locations in Washington and multiple locations in the Portland, Oregon area until more information is available. At this time, CDC does not have any information to suggest that Chipotle Mexican Grill locations in other states are affected by this outbreak.

FDA is testing several different food items collected from Chipotle Mexican Grill locations in Washington and Oregon for the presence of bacteria. Results of this testing will be reported once it is available.

CDC and state and local public health partners are continuing laboratory surveillance through PulseNet to identify additional ill persons and to interview them. Updates will be provided when more information is available.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.