Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc has closed 43 of its restaurants in Oregon and Washington due to a reported outbreak of E. coli bacteria.
Three people from Portland area and 19 people in Western Washington with ages ranging from 11 to 64 have become sick from E.coli. Although no deaths have occurred, eight of the cases have resulted in hospitalization. The health officials of the state are investigating the exact source of the infection.
Chipotle's company spokesperson, Chris Arnold, said that the outbreak has been tied to just six of the company's restaurants in the area, but they closed a total of 43 restaurants just to be safe.
"We are working with health department officials to determine the cause of this issue. We offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by this situation," he added.
"A total of 43 local Chipotle restaurants have been closed. The reopening schedule will be driven by progress of the investigation," said Arnold.
E.coli is among the vast array of bacteria that live in the human gut. Most strains of E-coli are harmless, but some can cause symptoms like diarrhea, respiratory illness, pneumonia, urinary tract infection.
Dr. Scott Lindquist, State Epidemiologist, said in a statement, "Anyone who thinks they may have become ill from eating at a Chipotle restaurant in the past three weeks should consult their healthcare provider. The elderly and very young children are more likely to become severely ill from this kind of E. coli infection."