Popular deli linked to salmonella cases

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health has confirmed six cases of salmonella infection and is investigating four more suspected cases in which people were sickened, allegedly after dining at the popular Woodmere restaurant Corky & Lenny's.

"We don't have any positive assurance, but we're investigating the restaurant as one of the only common links between the 10 people who got sick," said John McLeod, the health board's director of environmental health.

The first case was reported Monday, and no cases have been reported since Wednesday, McLeod said. Two people were hospitalized and have since been discharged.

The likely culprit is the restaurant's matzo ball soup, which is made with eggs and chicken fat, although health officials are checking every item on the menu, as well as testing the restaurant staff, McLeod said.

McLeod and restaurant manager Earl Stein said Corky & Lenny's is fully cooperating with the investigation. The restaurant remains open for business.

Salmonella is transmitted to humans eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Many raw foods - eggs, meat products, poultry - are frequently contaminated, but thorough cooking kills the bacteria. Food also can become contaminated by an infected food handler who forgot to wash his hands with soap after using the bathroom.

Most persons infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: dkeough@plaind.com, 216-999-4927