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Chipotle E. Coli Scare Shuts Down Restaurants

Chipotle is the latest chain to be rocked by an E. coli scare. The popular eatery has closed 43 stores in Oregon and Washington after 22 illnesses were reportedly linked to it.

According to a statement by the Washington State Department of Health, "Some types of E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever and vomiting. Those illnesses can sometimes result in severe, life-threatening illness and may be fatal." Fortunately, none of the cases has resulted death thus far. And the closures make up just 2 percent of the nearly 2,000 stores nationwide.

In response to the outbreak, company spokesperson Chris Arnold told People magazine, the outbreak appears to have affected just those six restaurants.

Arnold said:

"The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our highest priority. After being notified by health department officials in the Seattle and Portland, Oregon, areas that they were investigating approximately 20 cases of E. coli, including people who ate at six of our restaurants in those areas, we immediately closed all of our restaurants in the area out of an abundance of caution, even though the vast majority of these restaurants have no reported problems. 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."

This isn't the first time Chipotle has dealt with a health crisis. Earlier this year, 64 diners in Minnesota got sick after eating tomatoes served there. After reports of salmonella, all 22 restaurants in the area swapped out the vegetables for batches from a different supplier. Then in California, a Simi Valley shop infected 80 people with the norovirus in August. Other cases involving E. coli tainted iceberg lettuce surfaced in Colorado, Utah and New York and another norovirus scare in La Mesa, California, in 2008.

State officials warn that anyone who becomes ill after recently eating at a Washington or Oregon Chipotle should consult a doctor immediately.

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