Illinois health officials: Salmonella may be linked to illegally-manufactured cheese

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Illinois health officials warned that illegally-manufactured cheese may be linked to about 100 cases of salmonellosis in more than a dozen counties.

Since July of 2012, about 100 cases of Salmonella have been reported, all believed to be associated with an illegally-manufactured Mexican-style cheese, according to the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck.

Counties south and east of the Quad Cities were included in the affected areas. Health departments in Boone, Cook, DuPage, Fayette, Kane, Lake, LaSalle, Macon, Marion, McHenry, Vermillion, Washington, and Will counties had reported cases of Salmonella possibly linked to the cheese.

“It’s important for you to check the labeling to make sure the product was made by a licensed dairy manufacturer- even if you purchased the cheese from a grocery store,” said Dr. Hasbrouck. “If you become ill after eating Mexican-style cheese, contact your health care provider and your local health department.”
The IDPH said about one-third of all reported cases have resulted in hospitalization.

A spokesperson from the department said many people who became infected said they got the cheese from factories, train stations, street vendors, or friends. “The cheese is not labeled and is often wrapped in aluminum foil,” said the spokesperson.

If you have Mexican-style cheese in your home and cannot clearly identify that the product was made by a licensed or regulated manufacturer, it is recommended that you do not eat it.

IDPH asks that anyone with information about illegally-manufactured cheese should contact their local health department. If you get sick after eating the cheese, you are asked to keep the cheese for possible testing.

For additional information about salmonella – click here.