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Several cases of salmonella poisoning in the Buffalo area last month apparently originated at a popular downtown coffeehouse and restaurant, Erie County Health Department officials said Thursday.

Epidemiologist Jack Schwartz said he is working with the owner and chef at Spot Coffee, 227 Delaware Ave., to review food preparation procedures in the wake of the incident.

Schwartz said his office was notified of six confirmed cases of salmonella poisoning and six other suspected cases that occurred between Aug. 16 and 18. One person was hospitalized. "We're still investigating," Schwartz said. "We don't have firm proof of where they came from. Commonly, it would be from chicken, different types of meals involving chicken."

Schwartz noted that more than a third of chicken sold commercially contains the salmonella bacteria, but it is killed during cooking when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees.

Salmonella poisoning, Schwartz said, develops 12 to 72 hours after contaminated food is eaten. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. "It runs its course and disappears in about three or four days," Schwartz said. "But there's a danger of dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea in the very young or the very old."

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