A University Hill sandwich shop was closed Wednesday after Boulder County Public Health linked the restaurant to an E. coli outbreak that hit a sorority house last month.
Jimmy John’s, 1125 13th St., was temporarily shut down as a precautionary measure after the health department determined that several people who became ill from the bacteria had eaten there. Chana Goussetis, spokeswoman for the health department, said the county isn’t sure if the restaurant is the source of the E. coli.
“Quite a few people who were sick had eaten at Jimmy John’s, but we’re not sure that is the source,” Goussetis said. “It was done to make sure no one else got sick. All the food workers are getting tested, and we’re making sure there is new food.”
Last week, the health department investigated a cluster of eight E. coli cases at the University of Colorado. Of the eight cases, seven were CU students and one was a sorority adviser. Most of the affected students were members of the same sorority, which CU officials declined to name. Goussetis said those cases were linked back to Jimmy John’s.
At least two of the victims have secured legal representation.
Goussetis said the county is now investigating 17 cases of E. coli, but not all are linked to the restaurant.
The strain of E. coli bacteria is one of the most common, according to health officials. The key symptom is bloody diarrhea. Though the illness is typically mild, in rare cases the strain can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, resulting in acute kidney failure.
The bacteria can be transferred when people handle food after going to the bathroom and don’t wash their hands.
A nationwide E. coli outbreak in 2006 was linked to spinach, but Goussetis said the county isn’t sure if a certain food is responsible for the outbreak.
A sign outside the restaurant Wednesday read, “Sorry for the inconvenience. We’ll see you tomorrow! Thanks, Jimmy John’s.” The health department couldn’t confirm that the store would be open today, or exactly when it will be open.
A statement from the company read: “Like other restaurants in the Boulder area, we are working with the health department as they investigate the E. coli source. As anyone who has been in a Jimmy John’s can attest, we take cleanliness very seriously. We routinely monitor our food suppliers and we have the highest quality standards in the industry. We are confident that we will open soon.”
Goussetis said, however, that her department is not working with any other restaurants regarding an E. coli outbreak.
According to the health department, there has been a rise in E. coli cases in Boulder County this year. The county has had an average of seven cases in the past, but it has seen 25 cases this year. Numbers are up statewide as well, Goussetis said.
The health department is asking others with E. coli symptoms to see their doctor or contact the department at 303-413-7500.