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Costco E. Coli Outbreak Could Be Worse Than Chipotle's [Updated]

Another day, another foodborne illness outbreak.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A new strain of E. coli that's been linked to chicken salad sold by wholesale giant Costco "is more likely to be life-threatening" than the recent outbreak tied to Chipotle, according to the Associated Press. So far 19 people in seven states have fallen ill, and public health officials are urging anyone who bought chicken salad at any U.S. Costco store on or before last Friday to throw it away.

People in California, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Utah, Virginia, and Washington have been affected. Five people have been hospitalized — two with a type of kidney failure — but thankfully, no deaths have been reported. Officials have not yet pinpointed the specific ingredient that's responsible for the foodborne illness outbreak.

The Chipotle-related E. coli disaster resulted in 43 of the burrito chain's locations in Washington and Oregon being temporarily shuttered. While those restaurants eventually reopened, it has since been revealed that the outbreak was more widespread than originally thought, also affecting people in has since spread to California, Ohio, New York, and Minnesota. At least 45 have been sickened.

The Centers for Disease Control tells the AP this new strain is unrelated to Chipotle, and it may be more harmful to young children. It's just another piece of evidence that foodborne illnesses are on the rise in America.

Update: November 25, 3:25 p.m. The CDC offered Eater an explanation of the differences between the Chipotle- and Costco-related strains of E. coli and why Costco's is more dangerous: "The type of E. coli involved the Chipotle cases is E. coli O26. This type of E. coli produces the same toxins produced by E. coli O157 (which is the strain involved in the cases linked to the Costco rotisserie chicken salad), and causes a similar illness, though it is less likely to lead to kidney problems (called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS)."

Costco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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