At least 26 cases of the symptoms stemming from the bacteria have been confirmed between April 25 and May 18 throughout Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Some cases have also been reported in nearby states.
The source of the contaminated ground beef hasn’t been identified, but officials said salmonella in ground beef can arise when it isn’t fully cooked, when cooking surfaces aren’t clean, or when perishable food isn’t refrigerated within an hour or two of being bought.
Some of the people in Illinois who got sick from the salmonella reported that they ate undercooked ground beef, health officials said.
The state health department recommends the following steps to help prevent falling ill from salmonella:
- Wash hands, utensils and surfaces often
- Separate raw meat and poultry from food that won’t be cooked
- Use a thermometer to ensure ground beef is cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit
- Refrigerate perishable food within two hours, or within one hour if the food was exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Thaw food in a refrigerator
Symptoms of salmonella, which can emerge six to 72 hours after eating contaminated beef, include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and headaches.