File Photo – Ground Beef | Photo: Angele J / Pexels

The state health department is warning residents about a Salmonella outbreak linked to ground beef that has sickened people in the Chicago area, including Lake and McHenry counties.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said they are working with local health departments, the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to investigate.

The source of the ground beef has not yet been identified but public health officials are urging Illinois residents to follow safe food handling steps when preparing and eating ground beef.

Ground beef should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees before eating and the temperature should be checked with a food thermometer, the IDPH said.

Health officials have identified 26 confirmed cases in Illinois. Cases are reported in Chicago as well as Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

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The illness onset dates of the cases ranged from April 25 to May 18.

A small number of cases in other states are also under investigation by the CDC and state health departments.

The IDPH said federal and state officials are working to identify additional cases, perform lab testing and identify the source of the contaminated ground beef.

Some of the sick people reported eating undercooked ground beef.

“This outbreak, as well as the annual observance of World Food Safety Day today, highlight the importance of food safety,” the IDPH said.

World Food Safety Day is an annual, worldwide event promoted in the United States by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration dedicated to reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Salmonella can be found in a variety of foods, including beef, chicken and pork.

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The IDPH said they recommend people clean their hands, utensils and surfaces often.

A food thermometer should be used to make sure food has been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill germs.

Perishable food should be refrigerated within two hours or within one hour if the food is exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees.

Symptoms of illness caused by Salmonella commonly include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Some people may also have nausea, vomiting or a headache.