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updated: 10/23/2012 3:34 PM

Salmonella outbreak sickens 7 Cook, Lake county children

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A Wheeling company investigated in connection with seven cases of salmonella in schoolchildren in Cook and Lake counties has been cleared to resume preparing food, health officials said Monday.

The students, who range from age 7 to 14, attend four schools in northern Cook County and one in Lake County, said Amy Poore, spokeswoman for the County County Department of Public Health.

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The children got sick between Sept. 20 and Oct. 2, said Poore. Officials did not disclose the schools the afflicted students attend.

One child was hospitalized for four days, according to the Lake County Department of Public Health, but all have recovered.

OrganicLife, the Wheeling company that provides food to schools, "appears to be a common food provider," said Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health. However, health officials have not concluded the company is responsible for the illness.

During the investigation, the company was restricted to providing only hot and prepared foods. All of the employees at the Wheeling company have been tested and are free of the bacteria, said Poore. They also have received more training on food handling, and the premises have been inspected.

"It's very unlikely we will find the source (of the illness)," said Poore.

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