IDPH Director LaMar Hasbrouck says they are not yet certain of the exact manufacturer of the apparently tainted cheese but that a sample taken from a poisoned patient's home tested positive for the bacterium.
These cheese-poisoning cases may go all the way back to July 2012. Since then, at least 13 different county health departments have found a specific strain of Salmonella that is now believed to be associated with cheese that was not made in or by a licensed diary. Dr. Hasbrouck has this advice for consumers: “It is important for you to check the labeling to make sure the product was made by a licensed dairy manufacturer--even if you purchased the cheese from a grocery store."
And, of course, if you or someone in your family becomes sick after eating Mexican-style cheese you're urged to seek medical care right away.
So far, Salmonella poisonings have popped up in these counties:
And do you know of anyone making cheese outside a licensed dairy? You're urged to contact your county's health department. It's not a good idea to buy Mexican-style cheese from friends, street vendors or flea market sellers, either. In fact, if you have any doubt about the source of the cheeses in your refrigerator you should toss them out immediately.
Nationwide, at least 42,000 Salmonella poisonings are reported each year. But health experts believe that the true number of salmonellosis cases is grossly under-reported because mild cases are often simply treated as flu or some type of "tummy bug" and never formally diagnosed.