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updated: 7/12/2018 7:20 PM

McDonald's pulls salads after illness sickens 90 across Illinois

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By Christopher Hacker
Daily Herald correspondent

An outbreak of foodborne illness has sickened about 90 people in Illinois, with some cases linked to McDonald's salads, the Illinois Department of Public Health said Thursday.

Officials said reports of intestinal illness from multiple counties began in May. About a quarter of those infected in Illinois said they'd eaten a McDonald's salad shortly before falling ill, officials said.

Public health officials in Iowa issued a similar statement, saying they've identified 15 cases since late June.

Illinois health officials said McDonald's is removing salads from its restaurants in response to the outbreak and plans to resupply the restaurants with salads from alternate sources. A McDonald's representative didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The illness, caused by a microscopic parasite called Cyclospora, can cause vomiting, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Cyclospora infection, known as cyclosporiasis, isn't spread directly from person to person, but rather by consuming food or water contaminated by feces that contains the parasites, according to the CDC.

"Although a link has been made to salads sold in McDonald's restaurants in some Illinois cases, public health officials continue to investigate other sources," health department Director Nirav D. Shah said in a statement, adding that anyone who has eaten a McDonald's salad an develops symptoms should contact a doctor.

Officials said cyclosporiasis can be treated with antibiotics and usually lasts about a week, although it can last as long as a month if untreated.

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