Illinois residents among victims as salmonella outbreak sickens scores nationwide

Tribune reporter

Eight people in Illinois are among 93 nationwide who have been sickened by a salmonella outbreak, but a source of the cases has not been confirmed yet, state and federal health officials said today.

Five of the Illinois cases were reported in Chicago, while two were in Will County and one was in suburban Cook County, said Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health.

The Illinois residents who were infected began feeling sick between Feb. 11 and March 12, Arnold said. Two of them required hospitalization, she said.

The outbreak involving salmonella bareilly, an unusual type of salmonella, has been reported in 18 other states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illnesses began between Jan. 28 and March 23, the agency said.

Ten people were hospitalized across the country, but no deaths have been reported, according to the CDC. New York had 23 cases, the most of any state, followed by Illinois, Wisconsin and Maryland with eight each. People who fell ill range from 4 to 78 years old, according to the agency.

A food source for the salmonella has not been confirmed, but many of the people who were sick reported eating sushi, sashimi or similar foods in the week before symptoms began, the CDC said in a statement.

The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and state and local health agencies are trying to find and interview other victims to help identify the source of the infections, officials said.

Because the source has not been identified, Illinois health officials are not advising people to avoid any specific foods or restaurants, Arnold said. People who think they may have become sick from eating contaminated food should contact their doctors, she said.

Salmonella infections often cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours, according to the CDC. Symptoms usually last four to seven days. Most people recover without treatment, but severe cases can be fatal if not treated quickly with antibiotics, according to the agency.

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