43 Chipotle restaurants close amid E. coli outbreak

FILE - This Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 file photo shows the door of a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Robinson Township, Pa. Chipotle on Monday, April 27, 2015 said it has completed phasing out genetically modified ingredients from its food, making it the first national fast-food chain to do so. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Forty-three Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurants are temporarily closed in Washington and Oregon.

Authorities have closed the locations as the company and health authorities investigate an outbreak of Escherichia coli (E. coli). Chipotle made the announcement Sunday.

The company and health officials are investigating approximately 20 cases of E. coli, including people who ate at six of its restaurants in those areas.

“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,” Chris Arnold, Chipotle spokesman said in a statement.

The Oregon Health Authority said the cases have been linked to customers eating at Chipotle restaurants between Oct. 14 and 23. They said those affected range from 11 to 64 years of age.

One third of those affected have been hospitalized but no deaths have been reported.

E. coli is a type of bacteria that is in the gut of humans and animals. Some strains can produce toxins, which is what causes humans to be sick. It can cause serious symptoms and even be life-threatening. The virus is spread by oral contact with fecal matter.

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