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Chipotle E. coli outbreak spreads to California and three additional states

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The E. coli outbreak connected to Chipotle restaurants is now thought to be in California. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday that the number of people infected with the strain totals 45 in six states.

In California, the outbreak was detected in the Central Valley. The chain said Friday that two people who reported eating at the Chipotle in Turlock became ill with E. coli symptoms.

Investigators believe a common meal item or ingredient served at the restaurants is a likely source of this outbreak, but have not yet singled out what that might be.

Investigators are using whole genome sequencing, an advanced laboratory technique, to get more information about the DNA fingerprint of the STEC O26 bacteria causing illness, the CDC said Friday.

The company said that it's taking aggressive steps to "make sure its restaurants are as safe as possible." These include deep cleaning of affected stores, testing key ingredients and examining food-safety procedures to find "any opportunity for improvement."

“We take this incident very seriously because the safety of our food and wellbeing of our customers is always our highest priority,” said Steve Ells, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle in a press statement. “We are committed to taking any and all necessary actions to make sure our food is as safe as possible, and we are working diligently with the health agencies.”

In addition to Washington (26) and Oregon (13)—the two states where the outbreak originated—cases have also been reported in Minnesota (2), New York (1), and Ohio (1), the CDC reported. California has the two previously mentioned.

Reported illnesses started on October 19, 2015 and continued through November 8, 2015, with ages ranging from two to 94. Of those, 43 out of 45 said they had eaten at a Chipotle Mexican Grill. No deaths have been reported.