State and federal officials are investigating a new outbreak of Salmonella infections related to ground beef.

So far the Illinois Department of Health has identified 26 confirmed cases. A source of ground beef has not yet been found. Illness onset dates range from April 25 to May 18, but additional patients are expected to be identified because it can take more than four weeks for confirmation testing and reporting to be concluded.

In addition to the Illinois patients, there are patients in other states, but the Illinois officials did not report what states are involved.

The Illinois health officials report that some of the ill people have said they ate undercooked ground beef before becoming ill.

As of this afternoon, June 7, neither the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the USDA Foos Safety and Inspection Service have released any information about the outbreak.

In Illinois, patients are reported in Chicago as well as Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties.

There is concern that consumers may have unused portions of the implicated ground beef in their homes. Therefore the Illinois Department of Health is reminding people to thoroughly cook ground beef to a temperature of 160 degrees F, as measured by a meat thermometer. Visually inspecting the color of ground beef or its juices is not a reliable way to determine that it has been cooked to a sufficient temperature to destroy Salmonella.

 About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any ground beef and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

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