By AP Medical Writer
updated 6/22/2010 7:33:40 PM ET 2010-06-22T23:33:40

A suburban Chicago woman who claims she went to the emergency room after eating a Subway sandwich is suing the restaurant chain following a salmonella outbreak that sickened nearly 100 of its customers across Illinois.

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The lawsuit filed by Alicea Bush-Bailey, 46, of Bolingbrook, accuses Subway of failing to prevent the outbreak. The Illinois Department of Public Health is investigating and keeping a tally of illnesses, which as of Tuesday totaled 97 people who got sick after eating at Subway restaurants in 28 counties between May 5 and June 4.

"If it was just me and I got ill because my body just didn't agree with it, I could live with that," Bush-Bailey said Tuesday. "To know that it was because of someone else not washing their hands, or handling the food wrong," was what swayed her to contact a lawyer, she said.

Subway has apologized to customers and is cooperating in the state's investigation. The chain also removed ingredients in question and has been using new, fresh produce.

The suit, filed Monday in Will County Circuit Court, said Bush-Bailey became ill after she ate the sandwich May 12. The lawsuit was filed against the Aurora store where she bought the sandwich and Subway's parent company, Milford, Conn.-based Doctor's Associates Inc.

The suit doesn't specify a dollar amount in damages.

Subway spokesman Kevin Kane said the company doesn't comment on pending legal matters.

Bush-Bailey said she was treated for dehydration, pain and nausea at a local hospital after eating her usual Subway order: a tuna sandwich with lettuce, tomato and green pepper.

Bush-Bailey's attorney, Drew Falkenstein, said many more people may have been sickened in the outbreak but because they never sought medical help, they haven't been counted.

"Many people stay home and just try to get through their illness on their own, and never know that they have salmonella or that they are part of an outbreak," Falkenstein said in a statement.

Symptoms of illness caused by salmonella bacteria include diarrhea, vomiting, fever or stomach cramps.

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