Seattle – At least 19 people have been reported sick from E. coli. The outbreak, spread to 7 states, seems to be linked to rotisserie chicken salad made and sold at Costco stores, according to statements made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of the cases have affected western States such as California, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Utah, Washington, and Virginia. So far, five people had been hospitalized, and two developed a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS. The strain of Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli can be life-threatening, but no deaths have been reported.

Reportedly, 19 people were ill after an E-coli outbreak at Costco stores. Credit:

The CDC, along with The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said their investigation found that many of the patients ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco. The specific ingredient in the chicken salad linked to the outbreak has not been identified yet, but the CDC urged all people who bought the chicken salad at any Costco store nationwide on or before November 20th to throw it away, even if some of it has been eaten and no one has become ill.

Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety attorney who represents people sickened by tainted food declared that the current number of HUS cases is twice what is normally seen with E. coli 157, the pathogen identified in the outbreak.

“This tells me that the number of ill is likely going to go up because the HUS cases are easier to track,” Marler said.

Craig Wilson, vice president of food safety at Costco said the stores have stopped selling the chicken salad on November 20th, the same day it was notified by federal health officials that it was linked to cases of E. coli.

Last year, Costco stores were linked to another outbreak. Then, it was associated to more than 600 cases of salmonella reported in 29 states.

A few weeks ago, another E. Coli outbreak was reported. The Mexican food Chain Chipotle voluntary closed down 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon after more than 40 people got sick from the illness after eating in one of the restaurants.

The strain linked to the Mexican food chain was identified as E. coli 026, while the one tied to Costco is E. coli 157, which the CDC said is more likely to be harmful. Bill Marler said the problem appears serious because People were hospitalized in the Chipotle outbreak, but no one developed kidney failure.

Source: NY Times