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Reports of salmonella surface in McHenry County from illegally made cheese

Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 10:49 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, March 29, 2014 12:18 a.m. CDT

The Illinois Department of Public Health is warning residents of an illegally manufactured cheese that has resulted in around 100 cases of salmonella in the state.

Thirteen counties, including McHenry County, have reported cases to the public health department with the same strain of salmonella believed to be associated with an illegally produced Mexican-style cheese.

“We’re concerned that people who consume this manufactured cheese may become sick from salmonella,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director LaMar Hasbrouck said in a news release. “It is important for you to check the labeling to make sure the product was made by a licensed dairy manufacture – even if you purchased the cheese from a grocery store. If you become ill after eating Mexican-style cheese, contact your health care provider and your local health department.”

Many of those affected by the cheese obtained it from worksites, street vendors or from relatives and friends, the news release said. The cheese is not labeled and is often wrapped in aluminum foil.

The average age of people who have become ill from the cheese is 9 years old, and a third of all the cases have resulted in hospitalization.

Salmonella bacteria can’t be detected by sight, taste or smell. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Most people can recover in three to five days, but the infection is more severe in young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

The Illinois Department of Public Health encourages people to always buy dairy products from a licensed manufacture.

“Make sure you know the name of the product, where it was produced, those types of things,” said Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the department.

Those with information about the Mexican-style cheese should call the McHenry County Department of Health at 815-334-4500.

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