There have been at least 97 reported cases of E. coli across six states, including the Bluegrass State. All the people who’ve gotten ill ate at Wendy’s in the days before they reported symptoms. In response, Wendy’s has removed sandwich lettuce from many of their Midwest stores.
E. coli cases linked to Wendy’s have been reported in Kentucky, as well as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and New York.
The CDC said in a statement that "the true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses.”
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacteria that normally lives in the intestinal tract of humans and other animals. In most cases, an E. coli infection is mild, with some diarrhea. However, some strains of E. coli, such as E. coli O157:H7 can cause severe illness, including bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting. It's not known at this time what strain of E. coli is involved in Wendy's outbreak.
E. coli outbreaks are often caused by bacteria transmitted through foods that aren’t cooked before consumption, such as lettuce on a sandwich. The bacteria gets onto the food through the fertilizer used, often including animal manure.
Wendy’s and attorneys for those who have gotten sick are looking to a California grower as the source of the outbreak, but nothing has been officially stated about the actual sources.
“Throughout the year, we source sandwich lettuce from growing areas in California and Arizona, which includes the Salinas Valley,” a spokesperson for Wendy’s said in a statement. “We work with a number of suppliers in the region.”
Exact numbers in Kentucky were not available at press time, nor were the precise Wendy’s locations that might have been involved.
Image by Nheyob - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40688400
Billy Mosley, Lead Reporter for The Kentucky Daily