Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

Taco Bell E. coli Outbreak Widens

Cases in 6 States, More States Likely to Be Affected in Ongoing Outbreak
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 8, 2006 -- The outbreak of diarrhea-causing E. coli among people who ate at Taco Bell restaurants is widening, CDC and FDA officials say.

As of noon today, the outbreak -- focused in the Northeast -- had infected 63 people in six states. Nearly 80% of those have been hospitalized.

Seven of the infected have the most feared complication of E. coli infection, a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS. HUS is a life-threatening problem that causes kidney failure.

So far, there have been no deaths in the current outbreak.

But it isn't over, warns the CDC's Christopher Braden, MD, a medical epidemiologist with the National Center for Infectious Diseases.

"There are quite a number of ill persons under investigation in numerous states," Braden said today at a joint FDA/CDC news conference. "The information we have indicates that illnesses are still occurring. We consider the outbreak to be ongoing."

It's not yet clear what food item was contaminated with E. coli.

Rapid screening tests have implicated green onions, but those tests haven't been confirmed, says David Acheson, MD, chief medical officer at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

"The common factor that has come out is that these people ate at Taco Bell," Acheson said at the news conference. "What did not come out is what they ate at Taco Bell -- is it the onions, the lettuce, the tomatoes, or something else?

"What we are testing is fresh produce and cheese," he said.

Acheson praised Taco Bell Corp. for its full cooperation with FDA and CDC investigations.

However, he said it is up to state and local authorities -- not the FDA -- to decide whether the restaurants will be closed.

The outbreak is primarily in the Northeast. As of today, there have been 62 confirmed cases:

  • 28 in New Jersey
  • 21 in New York
  • 9 in Pennsylvania
  • 2 in Delaware
  • 1 in South Carolina
  • 1 in Utah

It's not yet known whether cases outside the Northeast are in people infected during travel.

Today on WebMD

Woman trying clothes / dress
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Hot cup of coffee
woman shopping fresh produce
butter curl on knife
eating out healthy
Smiling woman, red hair
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens

Special Sections