The good people of Illinois have either (1) experienced more than their fair share of foodpoisoning outbreaks in the last two years, or (2) hired great epidemiologists at their health departments who collaborate well with the State HD to detect lots of outbreaks.  Whatever the reason, the Kane County Health Department and Illinois Department of Public Health reported today that they have detected a recent increase in Salmonella Typhimurium cases in Northeastern Illinois.  The cases are believed to be linked to Portillo’s restaurant in St. Charles.  From the press release:

In approximately the past two weeks, 10 cases of Salmonella ser. Typhimurium with a matching PFGE, or genetic, pattern have been reported In Illinois. This pattern is rare in Illinois. At least two additional cases of S. Typhimurium are pending the PFGE results. Cases in other states have also been identified.

While the investigation is ongoing, a common potential link is that seven of the people affected reported having eaten at Portillo’s in St. Charles during the month of April. No specific food item has been identified to be source of the illness.

The management of Portillo’s is actively cooperating with state and local health officials in the investigation. The restaurant was sanitized over night Monday, and is having all its food handlers tested for possible infection.

Before returning to work, the restaurant’s food handlers will need to provide two samples for testing, each one 24 hours apart. Portillo’s has called in workers from some of its other locations so that it can operate while waiting for the test results of the other staff members.

The seven people have tested positive for Typhimurium Salmonella.