A Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) spokesman confirmed Monday afternoon that a patron who recently ate at the Monticello Applebee’s restaurant was included on a list of people affected by a recent statewide E. coli outbreak.
Thirteen cases of the foodborne illness have been reported, the health department stated in a news release issued Monday afternoon.
MDH Communications Director Michael Schommer said via phone Monday while seven of the people with E. coli infections reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota between June 24 and 27, there are multiple cases with no apparent connection to the restaurant chain.
All of the illnesses were caused by the same genetic strain of E. col, and the ill people do not all share any obvious commonalities, Schommer confirmed, adding it’s likely the illnesses resulted from a widely distributed food item.
Schommer confirmed Applebee’s restaurants in Woodbury, Roseville, Blaine, Monticello and Duluth. The Monticello Applebee’s is located at 9386 Deegan Ave.
Applebee’s is cooperating fully with the investigation and as a precaution volunteered to remove the Oriental Chicken salad from menus at all its Minnesota restaurants while the investigation continues, health department officials stated.
The restaurant is also removing specific ingredients of its Oriental Chicken salad from other items on its menu out of an abundance of caution. Health officials are still working with Applebee’s, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and other regulatory agencies to determine the cause of the outbreak, the release stated.
According to Kansas City-based Applebee’s corporate spokesperson Dan Smith, six of the 13 cases of foodborne illness that the state is investigating have no connection to Applebee’s, an indication that the illnesses likely are the result of a vendor produce issue.
As such, Smith said Applebee’s restaurants throughout the state of Minnesota have removed the items, none of which are exclusive to Applebee’s.
Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli O111 typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever.
People usually become ill two to five days after exposure, but this time period can range from one to at least eight days. Most people recover in five to 10 days.
Complications from infection are more common among those with weaker immune systems, including young children and the elderly. MDH investigators note that this genetic strain of E. coli O111 has not been seen in the United States previously.
Health officials say anyone who visited a Minnesota Applebee’s since June 20 and has symptoms of E. coli O111 infection (particularly bloody diarrhea) should contact their health care provider immediately and inform them of their possible involvement in this outbreak.
MDH also asks that any potentially affected persons contact the department’s foodborne illness hotline at 1-877-FOOD-ILL (1-877-366-3455) to report potential connections.
Four of the 13 people who became ill were hospitalized, and all have recovered or are recovering. Diarrhea associated with E. coli O111 infection should not be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote further complications.
More information on E. coli infection can be found at www.health.state.mn.us. MDH officials will share more information with the public as the investigation continues.
Contact Tim Hennagir at [email protected]