Dozens of people, including children, fell ill from suspected salmonella poisoning after eating guinea pig meat and other dishes from a vendor at an Ecuadorian festival in Minneapolis Aug. 11, health officials said Wednesday.

At least 81 people went to Hennepin County Medical Center and Minneapolis Children’s Hospital with severe gastrointestinal symptoms after eating food served by one of the festival's vendors. The Minnesota Department of Health said numerous ill individuals have tested positive for salmonella.

Bill Belknap, spokesman for Hennepin County Public Health, said some of those who fell ill ate a traditional Ecuadorian dish that contained guinea pig meat, but others who didn't eat that dish also got sick. All of those who got sick were treated and released.

“It was most likely a bad food item or items being poorly handled,” Belknap said. “The diseased organism that originated somewhere got spread to other food items by cross contamination.”

Belknap said they first heard about the illnesses a few days after the Ecuadorian Independence Day festival. Belknap would not identify the vendor.

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