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HOMEMADE ROOT BEER BLAMED FOR 50 ILLNESSES

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Bad homemade root beer has been blamed for illness that struck at least 50 of the 200 people at a church dinner in Utah County in February.

The root beer was not saved so the organism could not be identified, but the root beer was implicated statistically, said Shelley Lanser, managing editor of the Utah Department of Health's Epidemiology Newsletter.The root-beer maker reported good handwashing during preparation but had experienced nausea the previous weekend.

"The most obvious explanation - and there's no way to prove it - is that the maker had some kind of illness and was still excreting," Lanser said. "A lot of food-borne outbreaks, you don't find pieces of the puzzle."

Symptoms of the illness, which was reported in the newsletter, included nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, muscle aches, fever and fatigue.