(Reuters/Mike Blake)

Federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of deadly E. coli bacteria that has sickened 19 people in at least seven states, mostly in the west.

Five people have been hospitalized, and two have developed a type of kidney failure, a severe complication from infection with this particular strain of E. coli. No deaths have been reported, officials said Tuesday.

Preliminary evidence suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is the likely source of this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

E. coli (EHEC) bacteria. (Manfred Rohde/AFP/Getty Images/HZI)

The investigation has not identified what specific ingredient in the chicken salad is linked to illness. Fourteen of 16 people bought or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco in the week before they got sick.

The largest numbers of cases have been reported in Colorado, Montana and Utah. California, Missouri, Virginia and Washington state have also reported cases.

The product has a typical shelf life of three days and is labeled "Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken.” Costco told public health officials last Friday that it had removed all remaining rotisserie chicken salad from its U.S. stores and would produce no more until further notice. Consumers should throw away any rotisserie chicken salad sold from any Costco store on or before Nov. 20, CDC said Tuesday.

Even if consumers have eaten some of the chicken salad and not gotten sick, health officials still advise that it be discarded.

(Courtesy of CDC)
(Courtesy of CDC)

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