(credit: Mike Mozart)

Amid an ongoing E. coli outbreak investigation at Chipotle Mexican Grill, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday announced that it is joining the effort to investigate what may be a second wave of illnesses linked to the chain restaurant. The new illnesses are caused by the same type of E. coli found in the previous cases—Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O26 (STEC 026)—but with a different, rare genetic variant.

To investigate this second wave, the FDA has combined forces with state and local authorities, plus the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which on Monday first announced an investigation into five cases of the variant E. coli infections. Those cases included one in Kansas, one in North Dakota, and three in Oklahoma. The sickened people from Kansas and North Dakota reportedly ate at the same Chipotle restaurant in Kansas before falling ill. The three sickened in Oklahoma were separate cases, but all three reportedly ate at the same Chipotle, the FDA reported.

The new cases, if confirmed, would bring the new E. coli outbreak numbers to 58 sickened and 12 states affected. The other states linked are California (3 cases), Illinois (1), Maryland (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), Ohio (3), Oregon (13), Pennsylvania (2), and Washington (27). All of the cases involve some form of the STEC 026 bacteria.

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