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Chili cook-off possible cause of Salmonella outbreak

An infectious outbreak in attendees of a chili cook-off in southern Illinois has led to an investigation by multiple health departments. 

The St. Clair County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella in people who attended the Belleville Chili Cook-Off on October 8, CBS affiliate KMOV reports. Cases have been identified in residents of multiple Illinois counties and in one resident of Missouri.

The event involved more than 60 vendors, St. Clair County health officials said.

They advised anyone who develops symptoms to let their doctor know if they attended the event so they can be tested for the infection as soon as possible. 

Symptoms of Salmonella include sudden diarrhea, fever, chills, and abdominal pain and typically resolve within five to seven days, though occasionally can last longer. To prevent dehydration, the health departments are advising people who are sick to hydrate  throughout the day with fluids. 

To avoid the spread Salmonella, the health departments say it’s important for food be cooked thoroughly, and for people to wash their hands thoroughly after restroom use and before handling food. 

The departments are asking anyone who attended the event and is currently ill, or were ill at one time after Oct. 8, to contact their primary care provider for medical advice. They may also contact the St. Clair County Health Department at 618-233-6175, extension 4434. 

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