6 Hospitalized After Salmonella Outbreak at Chicago BBQ Joint: Health Department

Six people were hospitalized after a salmonella outbreak at a BBQ restaurant in the Morgan Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, health officials announced Friday.

Best BBQ, 1648 W. 115th Street, closed voluntarily and is fully cooperating with the Chicago Department of Public Health’s investigation, officials said. Officials said the outbreak was “impacting” 14 individuals total as of Friday evening. The health department encourages anyone who ate at Best BBQ and who are suffering symptoms to see a medical professional and tell them about the possibility of salmonella.

Emails sent and voicemails left for the business owners were not immediately returned.

"This is a serious condition that is treatable," said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita "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.

CDPH has also issued an alert to area physicians of the outbreak, providing medical guidance. For more information on Salmonella, go to the CDC website here.

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