Health investigators have linked the outbreaks to three Taco Bell units in New Jersey and a couple on Long Island. Two of the sickened patrons are in serious condition. The units remain closed.
Except for two of the people who became sick in New Jersey had eaten at one of the fast-food restaurants between Nov. 17 and 28, health officials said. What food contained the bacteria remains unclear. Most of the victims are younger than 18.
Five of the New Jersey victims remained in the hospital yesterday, including two in serious or critical condition with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can permanently damage the kidneys.
Twenty of those infected, including two restaurant employees who tested positive for E.coli but did not get sick, ate at a Taco Bell in South Plainfield, NJ; another ate at a Taco Bell in Edison, NJ; and one ate at a Taco Bell in Franklin Township, NJ, authorities said.
On Long Island, an E.coli outbreak sickened at least 14 people, including 10 who ate at Taco Bell. Four restaurants were closed as a precaution in Suffolk County, and Nassau County officials asked that four additional restaurants be closed, health officials said.
The Irvine, CA-based fast food chain has been criticized for delaying its acknowledgement of the outbreak and said that it is doing everything it can to determine what happened. Officials believe that the outbreak has run its course.