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Chicago health officials announced the investigation into a Salmonella outbreak linked to Best BBQ restaurant in the city’s Morgan Park community.

Salmonella bacteria (red)/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Salmonella bacteria (red)/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The outbreak has affected 14 people, with six required hospitalization for their illness.

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The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) says Best BBQ closed voluntarily and is fully cooperating with the investigation.

CDPH recommends anyone who recently ate at the restaurant in question and is suffering symptoms to see a medical provider and inform them of the possibility of Salmonella.

“This is a serious condition that is treatable,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. “Anyone who believes they may be symptomatic and ate at this restaurant should see their medical provider immediately. CDPH is taking every precaution as part of our robust response in order to limit the impact of this outbreak.”

Salmonella is a bacteria that can be treated with antibiotics. Most people infected develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. Salmonella symptoms usually last four to seven days, and most individuals recover without any treatment. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites. In these cases, Salmonella can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Salmonella causes approximately one million illnesses and 450 deaths in the United States each year.

The outbreak was detected by CDPH officials’ ongoing surveillance, reviewing laboratory reports of patients diagnosed with specific diseases. Investigators recognized an uptick in a particular laboratory serotype of Salmonella cases and then contacted patients to determine if there were any commonalities between the various cases. This led to the determination that a number of individuals with a single Salmonella serotype recently ate at the restaurant in question. Working with CDPH food protection inspectors, the restaurant is addressing any possible contamination issues, to ensure sanitary and health conditions are in place. They are also providing a list of suppliers to investigate possible concerns with food sources.