UPDATE: A spokesman for Chipotle Mexican Grill says that the Denver-based company believes that common norovirus sickened the Boston College students described in the story below. Chipotle’s Chris Arnold said there is no confirmation yet, but “all of the evidence” points toward norovirus, not the recent E. coli O26 outbreak. Previous coverage below: Chipotle Mexican Grill started the week being blamed for more illnesses in a potentially expanded number of E. coli infections, sending its stock diving to another post-outbreak low. But the most recent allegations — while getting plenty of attention — are not yet proven facts. The latest bad news for the Denver-based fast-casual restaurant chain began after several Boston College basketball players missed Sunday’s game against University of Massachusetts-Lowell and quickly claimed to be suffering from E. coli infections they picked up dining at the Chipotle restaurant at Cleveland Circle in Boston. By Monday, as many as 28 Boston College students were reportedly sickened, and Chipotle temporarily shut down the restaurant. As Chipotle corporate officials ran to catch up on Monday, the company’s stock was again plummeting. As the most recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update posted on Dec. 4 reported, there were 52 people infected with the same outbreak strain of E. coli O26 in nine states. Massachusetts was not yet among them, and the onset dates for that outbreak were between Oct. 19 and Nov. 13, 2015, CDC noted. In a statement to local media outlets, the college administration said, “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. “The common factor among the students is that they had all eaten at the Chipotle restaurant in Cleveland Circle,” the BC statement added. “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.” A spokesman for the 1,900-plus outlet chain, Chris Arnold, said there was not yet any “confirmed cases of E. coli connected to Chipotle in Massachusetts.” He also said there is no evidence yet to suggest that the Boston outbreak is related to the nine-state one. After falling $8.41, or 1.5 percent, to $552.79 per share during trading hours on Monday, Chipotle dived another $38.79, or 7.02 percent, after hours to a low of $514 per share. Shareholders have lost $236 per share since the nine-state outbreak began in October.
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