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February 4, 2014

Illinois Department of Public Health Warns of Buffalo Fish Causing Illness
Rare disease suspected in two people

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is warning people who purchased buffalo fish from Fresh Farms International Market in Niles in Cook County after January 30, 2014, not to eat the fish.  Health officials in Chicago and Cook County are reporting two people who consumed the fish have been seen at the hospital for suspected cases of Haff disease. 

Haff disease is a swelling and breakdown of skeletal muscle thought to be caused by a toxin sometimes found in buffalo fish in the Mississippi River.  Symptoms of Haff disease generally appear within 6 to 21 hours after eating fish and commonly include severe muscle pain, stiffness and brown urine.  Acute kidney failure may also be a complication.  Symptoms typically resolve within 2 to 3 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.  “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.”

If you have purchased this fish, do not eat it.  If you have eaten it and are feeling ill, contact a health care provider right away, as well as your local health department.  If you have eaten the fish, but are not feeling ill, watch for symptoms.

Providing essential health information during emergencies is one way IDPH is working toward becoming the state’s leading public health authority, and implementing IDPH’s Five Year Strategy.   For a copy of the strategic plan, go to http://www.idph.state.il.us/about/StrategicPlan_Final_2014-2018.pdf


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