Multistate E. Coli Outbreak Rises to 84 Cases, Majority Linked to Wendy’s Restaurants

Multistate E. Coli Outbreak Rises to 84 Cases, Majority Linked to Wendy’s Restaurants
A sign in front of a Wendy's restaurant. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday that dozens more people have been infected due to an E. coli outbreak that mainly sickened customers eating sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy’s restaurants.

In an Aug. 25 press release, the health agency said 52 of the 62 people—or 84 percent—it interviewed reported to have eaten the sandwiches at Wendy’s in the week before they fell ill.

A total of 84 people from four U.S. states—Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania—have been sickened due to the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7, an increase of 47 people since the CDC’s previous update last week.

The outbreak has also hospitalized 38 people. Those who fell ill ranged in age from 5 to 94 years, with a median age of 24 years. No deaths have been reported.

The agency stressed that the actual number of sick people is likely higher than reported and the outbreak may not be limited to the four states with known illnesses.

“This is because some of the recent illnesses have not yet been reported to PulseNet as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak,” the CDC stated. “In addition, some people recover without medical care and are not tested for E. coli.”

As a precaution based on the current information, Wendy’s removed the romaine lettuce used in sandwiches from restaurants in the affected regions, the company confirmed last week.

Wendy’s announced that it is fully cooperating with the CDC in the investigation. The company said in a statement to multiple news outlets that it is “committed to upholding our high standards of food safety and quality.”

The CDC said a specific food has yet to be confirmed as the source of the E. coli outbreak.

The public health agency also emphasized that it is “not advising that people avoid eating at Wendy’s restaurants or that people stop eating romaine lettuce.”

“Wendy’s uses a different type of romaine lettuce for salads,” the CDC said. “Investigators are working to confirm whether romaine lettuce is the source of this outbreak, and whether romaine lettuce used in Wendy’s sandwiches was served or sold at other businesses.”

Romaine lettuce
Romaine lettuce in a file photo. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

E. coli is a type of bacteria commonly found in the environment, as well as in the intestines of people and animals. While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some can cause varying degrees of illness and can even result in death. Symptoms of E. coli may include diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia, and/or other illnesses.

The CDC said that people should contact a doctor if they experience any suspected severe E. coli symptoms, which include diarrhea, a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celcius) for more than three days, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration signs such as limited urination, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy upon standing up.

Epoch Times reporter Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.

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