Although public health official have given no “official” explanation for the drop in E. coli O26 cases linked to Chipotle restaurants in Oregon and Washington, I assume that the 13 deducted did not eat at Chipotle at all or did not eat at one of the several restaurants implicated during the outbreak time frame. In addition, it is possible, but not likely, that the 13 E. coli O26 cases are all sporadic (not connected to each other), but it is more likely that the 13 are a second outbreak linked to something that has yet to be determined and/or announced.
On November 12, the CDC reported fifty ill people from Washington (31) and Oregon (19) from Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O26 (STEC O26) infections. Fourteen people have been hospitalized in Washington (10) and Oregon (4) linked to Chipotle restaurants in Oregon and Washington.
Today the CDC reported that Public health officials in Washington, Oregon, and Minnesota announced that that are continuing the investigation of 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. As of November 17, 2015, 37 people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O26 have been reported to CDC PulseNet from Washington (24) and Oregon (13). 13 of these people were hospitalized in Washington (9) and Oregon (4). Additional illnesses are under investigation by Washington and Oregon and will be reported if they are confirmed to be infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O26.
There have been no reported infections with the outbreak strain of STEC O26 in Washington or Oregon since the Chipotle Mexican Grill locations closed in the Pacific Northwest on October 30, 2015. A search of the PulseNet database identified one person in Minnesota infected with STEC O26 that has the same DNA fingerprint as ill people in Washington and Oregon. This ill person did not eat at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in the week before illness onset. Minnesota’s investigation is ongoing. The illness does not appear to be linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill locations in Washington and Oregon.
Washington and Oregon report that nearly all of the ill people ate at several locations of Chipotle Mexican Grill in those states before getting sick. The investigation is still ongoing to determine if the ill people ate a meal item or ingredient in common that was served at the Chipotle Mexican Grill locations. Chipotle Mexican Grill reopened its restaurants in Washington and in the Portland, Oregon area that had been closed in response to this investigation.