Minnesota Salmonella outbreak linked to Chipotle

Published 10:31 am Friday, September 11, 2015

By Jeremy Olson

Minneapolis Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — At least 17 Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota have been linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 45 people and sent five to the hospital.

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While the source of the outbreak hasn’t been confirmed, investigators with the Minnesota Department of Health have a strong suspicion of the contaminated ingredient and said it has already been swapped out from all of the Mexican-themed fast food restaurants in the state.

“It’s safe to eat at Chipotle,” said Health Department spokesman Doug Schultz, who ate the fully loaded burrito bowl his wife picked up for dinner Wednesday evening.

Interviews with 34 of those sickened found that 32 ate at Chipotles in the Twin Cities, St. Cloud or Rochester.

The known cases involved people who dined between Aug. 16 and Aug. 26, and became sick between Aug. 20 and Aug. 29.

People who suffer stomach illnesses within 12 to 72 hours of eating at a Chipotle should report symptoms to health care providers, but don’t necessarily need medical attention, said Dana Eikmeier, epidemiologist for the Health Department’s foodborne diseases unit.

Reporting symptoms would be particularly important for people at greater risk of complications, including the elderly or people with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems, she noted.

The outbreak is probably much larger than the number of cases reported so far, considering the high number of restaurants involved, Eikmeier said. Its rapid discovery gives health officials a chance to alert the public while people might still be actively infected by the foodborne bacteria.

Salmonella infections may cause diarrhea, stomach pains and fever, which typically last 5 to 7 days. About one in four cases requires hospitalization.

About 700 Salmonella infections are confirmed in Minnesota each year. The Chipotle outbreak is unrelated to another one announced last week involving cucumbers at restaurants and grocery stores.