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Article updated: 2/4/2014 9:36 PM

Rare disease traced to buffalo fish sold at Niles supermarket

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By Daily Herald Report

Shoppers who purchased a specific type of fish from a Niles supermarket are being warned by the Illinois Department of Public Health not to eat it, or they risk getting a rare disease.

Buffalo fish sold after Jan. 30 at Fresh Farms International Market, 5740 W. Touhy Ave., have been linked to Haff disease, according to a health warning issued by the department on Tuesday.

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According to a statement from the Department of Public Health, health officials in Cook County and Chicago have reported two people who ate the buffalo fish were seen at hospitals for suspected cases of Haff disease. The disease is a swelling and breakdown of skeletal muscle thought to be caused by a toxin sometimes found in Mississippi River buffalo fish.

Symptoms of Haff disease, which generally appear within six to 21 hours after eating the infected fish, commonly include severe muscle pain, stiffness and brown urine, according to the health department. Kidney failure can also be a complication, though the health department said that symptoms typically go away in two to three days, and cases are rarely fatal.

"Haff disease is very rare, with the last case in Illinois reported in 2004," said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck in a statement. "While cooking food to the proper temperature will kill bacteria, cooking will not eliminate this toxin, and the fish will still be unsafe to eat."

The store apparently removed all buffalo fish on Tuesday morning, a manager said, after it was contacted by the IDPH.

The health department is advising that anyone who has eaten buffalo fish from Fresh Farms International Market to watch for possible signs of Haff disease and contact a health provider if any symptoms are experienced.

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