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New E. Coli Infection Turns Up In Johnson County

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A Johnson County resident is the latest person to fall ill with an E. coli infection that may be linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill.  

The resident reported having eaten at a Chipotle on Shawnee Mission Parkway in Shawnee, Kansas, in the week before becoming ill.

“The big thing for people to know is this was around Nov. 23 that they ate at that location,” said Sara Belfry, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Belfry said anyone who became ill within three or four days of eating at the restaurant and had symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, should contact their health care provider.

Federal health officials have identified five people, including the Johnson County resident, who have been infected with what they said was a “different, rare DNA fingerprint of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli026,” or STEC 26.

All five infected people reported eating at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in the weeks before they got ill. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s not known if the latest outbreak is related to a larger, previously reported E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle.

One of the other five cases was in North Dakota and three were in Oklahoma.   

As of Dec. 18, the CDC had reported 53 people in nine states infected as part of the earlier outbreak of STEC 026, a common type of E. coli that causes foodborne outbreaks. Forty-six reported eating at a Chipotle. Twenty people were hospitalized. There have been no reported deaths.

The CDC says evidence suggests that a common meal item or ingredient served at Chipotle is the likely source of the earlier outbreak.

At least 120 people in Boston were sickened by norovirus earlier this month in another separate outbreak of foodborne illness linked to Chipotle.

Chipotle says it’s implementing new programs to ensure the safety of its food supply.  

More information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2015/o26-11-15/index.html or at http://www.kdheks.gov/ecoli/.

Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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