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Number of sickened Bob Chinn’s diners up to 50, expected to rise

Updated: February 13, 2012 9:21AM

At least 50 people have been sickened with flu-like symptoms after eating at Bob Chinn’s Crab House in Wheeling, and that number is expected to increase because the eatery serves such a large number of people — about 800,000 annually — said a spokeswoman for the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Bob Chinn’s, which bills itself as the nation’s fourth busiest restaurant, reopened Wednesday afternoon, one day after it voluntarily closed it doors in the wake of several customers becoming sick.

“We worked with the [Cook County Department of] Public Health to clean and sanitize the restaurant,” said Dan Erdman, a restaurant spokesman. “We’ve satisfied all of the requirements, and they’ve allowed us to reopen.”

Amy Poore, a Public Health spokesman, confirmed Wednesday evening that 50 people with a gastrointestinal illness “have been linked to eating at Bob Chinn’s restaurant.”

“We anticipate that (the number) will continue to go up,” Poore said.

Poore said her agency has received dozens of calls from people who said they became sick after eating at the restaurant, but that it’s unclear at this point — because gastrointestinal illness is common this time of year — whether the eatery is the source of illness in all of those cases.

The restaurant closed voluntarily Tuesday morning after receiving complaints from some customers who said they’d become sick after eating at the restaurant, Poore said. Public Health investigators spent all day at the eatery Tuesday, but the agency isn’t yet certain of the specific source of the sickness. The first person to become sick after eating at Bob Chinn’s dined there Jan. 5, Poore said.

Poore said her agency is now satisfied it’s safe for the restaurant to reopen.

Gastrointestinal illness symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, chills and fever.

Anyone with Bob Chinn’s leftovers in their refrigerator should toss them in the trash, Poore said.

“If in doubt, throw it out,” Poore said.

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