updated 7/12/2007 11:49:22 AM ET 2007-07-12T15:49:22

Seventeen people who ate from the same booth at the Taste of Chicago food festival last week became ill, at least five of them with salmonella poisoning and three who were hospitalized, the health department said.

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The Chicago Department of Health was investigating the cases and confirmed on Wednesday that five were caused by salmonella bacteria.

The 17 people all ate at the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth, which served cucumber salad over hummus, grilled lamb and beef, pomegranate barbecued chicken and baklava.

It was the first confirmed outbreak of a food-borne illness associated with the Taste of Chicago in at least 20 years, the health department said in a release. The 10-day outdoor festival, which ended Sunday, brings out food from more than 70 restaurants and concerts.

Max Pars, owner of the restaurant connected with the booth, said he didn’t know how such contamination could have happened.

“We did everything properly,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “We were under supervision by the Health Department constantly.”

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, especially in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

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