SEATTLE, Nov. 3 (UPI) — A lawsuit was filed against Chipotle on Monday as the number of people sickened by E. coli from their restaurants continues to rise.
A nurse in Washington state has filed a lawsuit after becoming ill last week from Chipotle. The number of people sickened by the E. Coli outbreak connected to the restaurant chain has climbed to at least 37, health officials said.
The lawsuit was filed by Charmaine Denise Mode of Kelso, Wash. The nurse became sickened with bloody diarrhea five days after eating a burrito bowl at a Chipotle in Vancouver. Her suit said she missed work and endured a painful examination at the hospital. She is suing for more than $75,000 in damages.
The company temporarily shut down 43 restaurants in Oregon and Washington last week after several people came down with E. coli that health officials believe likely came from Chipotle. A direct link has not yet been established but health officials in both states have asked people who have become ill after eating at the restaurants to contact their doctor as soon as possible.
People eating food contaminated with the bacteria most often suffer diarrhea — sometimes bloody, stomach cramps and possibly vomiting one to 10 days later. For extreme cases, in particular for small children and the elderly, E. coli can be deadly.
This outbreak is the third incident of foodbourne illness at Chipotle this year. A Norovirus outbreak temporarily closed one California restaurant and salmonella closed another restaurant in Minnesota in August.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to those who have been affected by this situation,” said Steve Ells, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, in a statement. “It is our greatest priority to ensure the safety of all of the food we serve and maintain our customers’ confidence in eating at Chipotle.
Katrina Hedberg, an epidemiologist with the Oregon Health Authority said evidence points to produce being the likely source of the bacteria, with contamination taking place at the supply or distribution level.
“We need to figure out what the food item is so that we can stop it upstream,” Hedberg said.