The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating 13 cases of food-borne illness associated with a certain strain of E. coli bacteria. Some of these cases are tied to Applebee's restaurants in Minnesota.
Seven of the 13 people with E. coli O111 infections reported eating at Applebee's between June 24 and 27, the Minnesota Department of Health said in a news release Monday. The state department of health notes the other cases have no apparent connection to the restaurant chain.
Four of the 13 people who became ill were hospitalized, and they have all recovered or are recovering, the release says.
The department of health says Applebee's is cooperating with the investigation and has removed its Oriental chicken salad from menus at all Minnesota restaurants. The restaurant has also removed some ingredients of the salad from other menu items out of an abundance of caution, the health department says.
Health officials are still working with Applebee’s, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and other regulatory partners to determine the cause of the outbreak.
Health officials are asking anyone who visited a Minnesota Applebee's since June 20 and has symptoms of E. coli, especially bloody diarrhea, to contact their doctor and inform the health department of their possible involvement in the outbreak at 1-877-366-3455 to report the potential connection.
Kansas City-based Applebee's has 58 restaurants in Minnesota, the Associated Press reports.
E. coli O111
E. coli O111 is a food-borne illness in the same family as E. coli O157:H7, the more well-known strain of the illness that's been known to make people sick. The health department says this genetic strain of E. coli O111 hasn't been seen in the United States previously.
The health department says people usually become sick two to five days after being exposed, and symptoms typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea that's often bloody.
Most people usually recover in five to 10 days. Complications from the infection are more common among people with weaker immune systems, including young children and the elderly.
The department of health says people with diarrhea associated with this strain of E. coli shouldn't be treated with antibiotics because it could promote further complications.