The E. coli outbreak possibly linked to Wendy's restaurants is now affecting at least 97 people across six states.
As of August 31, the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 had been reported from six states: Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows.
Of 81 people with information available to the agency, 43 have been hospitalized, and 10 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a severe condition that can cause kidney failure.
The CDC notes that the true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher and may not be limited to the states with known illnesses.
Wendy's working with investigators
Among 67 people with detailed food history, 54 reported eating at a Wendy's restaurant in the week before their illness started. Two-thirds of patients said they had eaten romaine lettuce served on burgers and sandwiches.
The CDC notes that investigators "continue to analyze data at the ingredient level to determine if there are any other possible foods that could be the source of the outbreak."
Wendy's said in a statement that it fully cooperated with the authorities on the ongoing investigation and was committed to upholding food safety and quality standards.
"While the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food as the source of that outbreak, we have taken the precaution of removing the sandwich lettuce at some restaurants. The lettuce that we use in our salads is different, and is not affected by this action," the statement says.
According to the CDC, symptoms of E. coli infection vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting, and fever in some people.
Most people with the infection start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. In addition, most people get better within 5 to 7 days.
However, about 5 to 10% of people who are diagnosed with the infection develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) about seven days after symptoms first appear. The signs of HUS may include:
CDC. Investigation Details.
Wendy’s. Response to CDC statement.