E. coli outbreak possibly linked to Portillo’s in Glendale Heights, warn health officials

GLENDALE HEIGHTS – A health alert has been issued about a recent outbreak of E. coli that is possibly linked to Portillo’s in Glendale Heights, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health Friday.

IDPH has identified four cases of Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and one hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) case that report eating at Portillo’s, 235 E. North Ave. in Glendale Heights on July 16 and July 17. Foods served from Portillo’s in Glendale Heights may have been contaminated with STEC and could make people sick, according to a news release.

Health care providers should consider E. coli as the diagnosis in patients with clinically compatible illness and who have recently consumed food from Portillo’s in Glendale Heights. Health care providers are encouraged to obtain stool cultures in such cases and promptly report cases to their local health department.

According to an IDPH news release, the infection can cause abdominal cramps and severe diarrhea, which can be bloody. Symptoms can last about five to seven days. In children and older adults, an E. coli infection can lead to uremia, which is acute kidney failure, and hemolytic anemia, which is the destruction of red blood cells. This complication, known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, requires kidney dialysis and blood transfusions. Hemolytic uremic syndrome can lead to stroke, seizures and death if not treated accordingly.

Most people who have healthy immune systems will recover without treatment. Antibiotics are not recommended until diagnostic testing can be performed. Some studies have shown that administering antibiotics to patients with E. coli infections might increase their risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome. Antidiarrheal medications may worsen the illness.

For questions or additional information about the outbreak, contact the IDPH Communicable Disease Control Section at 217-782-2016.

Katrina Milton

Katrina J.E. Milton

Award-winning reporter and photographer for Shaw Media publications, including The Daily Chronicle and The MidWeek newspapers in DeKalb County, Illinois, since 2012.