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Montana’s health department is telling people to toss onions in the garbage if they don’t know where they came from over concerns of salmonella poisoning.

Gallatin County is one of 16 counties in Montana that have either confirmed or suspected salmonella newport illnesses linked to onions from Thomson International, Inc., according to a Department of Health and Human Services news release sent Wednesday. Health officials are investigating 52 reports and 12 hospitalizations linked to the bad onions in the state.

Other affected counties include Beaverhead, Big Horn, Carbon, Cascade, Deer Lodge, Fergus, Flathead, Hill, Jefferson, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Ravalli and Yellowstone.

Montana health officials are advising consumers, retailers and restaurants not to eat, sell or serve onions from the company. Other brand of onions include Thomas Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley’s Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions and Food Lion.

“If you cannot tell where your onions are from, throw them away,” said Rachel Hinnenkamp, with the U.S. health department.

An investigation is underway, and more brands may be added to the list.

Symptoms of salmonella poisoning vary for each person, but often include sudden onset of diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Some people may experience severe dehydration.

Most people infected with salmonella feel sick anywhere from six hours to six days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. They typically recover without needing treatment within four to seven days, the news release said.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.

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