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Rare Disease Traced To Fish Sold At Niles Grocery Store

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NILES, Ill. (STMW) — Shoppers who purchased a specific type of fish from a northwest suburban Niles supermarket are being warned by the Illinois Department of Public Health not to eat it, or 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 Feb. 4.

According to 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 that is 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 be a complication, though symptoms typically go away in two to three days and cases are rarely fatal, the department said.

“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.”

A man who identified himself only as Fresh Farms’ front-end manager told Pioneer Press that the store removed all buffalo fish on the morning of Feb. 4, after it was contacted by the IDPH.

“It’s being taken care of,” the manager said.

Anyone who has eaten buffalo fish from Fresh Farms International Market is advised by the health department to watch for possible signs of Haff disease and contact a health provider if any symptoms are experienced.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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