CDC declares E. coli outbreak linked to Wendy’s in Ohio, Michigan over

Several people sickened in an E. coli outbreak tied to Wendy's restaurants are pursuing legal action while also facing a long road to a healthy recovery.
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 12:39 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 11:25 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The CDC on Tuesday declared the end of an E. coli outbreak that started in Ohio and Michigan and was linked to lettuce served at Wendy’s restaurants.

109 people were sickened in the outbreak, while 52 of them required hospitalization, the CDC said. A majority of them live in Michigan and Ohio. People in six total states reported illnesses, including Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Kentucky.

The CDC said the true number of people sick in the outbreak is likely higher, because many people recover without needing medical attention and don’t get tested for E. coli.

More than 80% of sick people who health officials interviewed reported eating at Wendy’s before getting sick. Health officials haven’t identified the specific ingredient that caused their illnesses, but said most people ate burgers and sandwiches with romaine lettuce.

As a precaution on Aug. 19, Wendy’s removed the romaine lettuce it was serving on sandwiches and burgers at restaurants in states where people reported getting sick. The fast food chain said lettuce used in its salads is different from its sandwiches. The CDC never recommended against eating at the restaurant during the outbreak.

“During an outbreak, investigators work to collect three types of data to identify the contaminated food, but this outbreak ended before enough information could be gathered to determine the source of the outbreak,” the CDC said Tuesday.

The agency said the meals people ate at Wendy’s had “many similar ingredients,” and there was no data that could confirm romaine lettuce was the source.

Sick people ranged in age from 1 to 94 years old, according to the CDC. The median age of patients was 22 years. 13 people developed a serious condition that can cause kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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