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    North Reading restaurant closes after salmonella outbreak sickens up to 39 people

    A salmonella outbreak at a North Reading restaurant may have infected nearly 40 people, leading to the closure of the business until further notice, according to the town’s health board.

    Town officials say the outbreak is believed to have begun June 23 at Kitty’s Restaurant, a family-style Italian-American eatery that has been in North Reading for more than 65 years, according to its website.

    According to an advisory issued by the health board last Friday, 39 people have filed complaints with the state Department of Public Health. As of Tuesday afternoon, 11 were confirmed cases of salmonella. The other 28 cases are suspected to be salmonella.

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    Officials believe the causes of the outbreak could have included the restaurant’s antipasto salad and house dressing.

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    The North Reading Board of Health said it first received the complaints from the state Department of Public Health last Tuesday. The board began its initial investigation, which included determining “the source of the food, how it was prepared and served, who prepared it, and who it was served to,” according to the advisory.

    The health board recommended last Thursday that the restaurant, located at 123 Main St., close temporarily “in order to conduct a full cleaning and sanitization of the building.”

    Officials also recommended that restaurant management test its 46 employees who may have been working during the outbreak. All tested employees were to be cleared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health before returning to work.

    Town officials allowed Kitty’s to reopen last Friday. But after receiving more complaints about the restaurant, the health board conducted an on-site inspection Monday and ordered the restaurant closed again.

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    The inspection found that the restaurant had not complied with the board’s orders, including “several food safety and sanitation concerns relating to unsanitary conditions, cross-contamination, and time and temperature abuse,” North Reading police said Tuesday in a statement.

    The inspection also found that several employees who had been prohibited from returning to work were handling food.

    “As a result of that additional incident and the noncompliance of the establishment, that’s when the enforcement action was taken yesterday to close the restaurant,” North Reading police spokesman John Guilfoil said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

    Kitty’s has been ordered to clean and sanitize its facility. All of its staff will have to be tested and cleared before returning to work, not just the original 46 employees.

    Sophia Eppolito can be reached at sophia.eppolito@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @SophiaEppolito.