Illegally manufactured Mexican-style soft cheese is being blamed for eight cases of salmonella in Tulare County, the county's health department said Tuesday.
The illnesses are part of a larger cluster of cases being investigated by the state Department of Public Health.
According to the county, state officials have identified three other patients who traveled to or consumed unpasteurized cheese purchased in Tulare County. Several patients have been hospitalized, but no one has died. The investigation is continuing.
"The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has identified that the most common risk factor with these cases of salmonella is illegally manufactured Mexican-style soft cheeses," Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught said.
These cheeses are often made in unsanitary conditions with raw, unpasteurized milk and are often sold by street vendors, she said.
Salmonella causes fever, abdominal cramps, and possible bloody diarrhea. Symptoms may lessen after four to seven days; however, some individuals may develop complications that require hospitalization.
Those most at risk for severe illness include infants, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.