Bostonians need not panic after several Boston College students fell ill after eating at a Cleveland Circle Chipotle, according to a Massachusetts General Hospital doctor.
Members of the BC basketall team are among 30 students to show signs of E. coli after eating at the Brighton restaurant, which has since been closed pending an investigation.
“In the bigger picture, people have stomach bugs all of the time,” Dr. Braden Kuo, GI specialist at MGH, said. “It is a common bacteria, but there are many types. There are good kinds that exist in our guts, and there are many bad ones, and depending on the strain, it might take a small amount to make us sick.”
Kuo said that experts can take a “fingerprint” of specific E. coli strains so that they can track it’s travels and identify a possible source.
Boston College released a statement on Monday:
“Boston College has confirmed that several BC students and student-athletes, including members of the BC men’s basketball team, have reported to BC Health Services complaining of gastrointestinal symptoms,” BC officials said in a statement released on Monday. “The common factor among the students is that they had all eaten at the Chipotle restaurant in Cleveland Circle. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has been notified and is working to determine if there is a link to the ongoing national outbreak of E.coli. The Food and Drug Administration has issued information regarding this outbreak, which can be found on the FDA website.”
Chipotle issued a statement as well:
"The safety and well-being of our customers is always our highest priority, so our restaurant at Cleveland Circle in Boston is temporarily closed while we work with local health officials to investigate a number of illnesses among Boston College students. We do not have any evidence to suggest that this incident is related the previous E. coli incident. There are no confirmed cases of E. coli connected to Chipotle in Massachusetts.”
Kuo said there is a lot of "hype" surrounding E.coli outbreaks.
“Most healthy people do fine with clear fluids and rest," he said. "The very young the very old, or people whose immune system is compromised or they are taking certain medications that hit the immune system need to be more cautious, but the bacteria is rarely fatal.”
Experts are looking into the source of the outbreak, while the Cleveland Circle branch is closed until they have met the cleanliness standards put forth by the CDC, Kuo said. Other branches in town may not be affected by the outbreak at all.
“There is no reason for supersized epidemic scare,” Kuo said. “There’s no quarantine needed. You can be in proximity with someone with symptoms and be fine, but I wouldn’t double dip on the guacamole with them.”