An imported vegetable product is the most likely source of the Cyclospora outbreak that has sickened people in Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and other states, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). The department continues to receive reports of confirmed cases of Cyclospora infection, but the numbers are decreasing. The focus now is interviewing victims of the outbreak and analyzing the data to pinpoint the food product that made so many people sick.
“Through interviews with those who have been ill and by mapping the onset of illness (mid-June), we have a very good indication the source of contamination was most likely a vegetable that has probably already been consumed or discarded (because of the limited shelf life of fresh produce),” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. The department noted that the suspected vegetable product was not grown in an Iowa garden or commercial field.
Cyclospora is most common in tropical and subtropical regions. In the United States, all foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis since the mid-1990s have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce. The U.S. imports a variety of vegetables, including lettuce, onions, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers and tomatoes. Olive products, which are also imported, are generally not considered vegetables.
As of July 18, 2013, 102 cases of Cyclospora infections have been reported to IDPH, including: Linn County – 34 cases; Polk County – 9 cases; Pottawattamie County – 8 cases; Dallas County – 5 cases; Black Hawk County – 4 cases; Woodbury County – 4 cases; Boone County – 4 cases; Fayette County – 3 cases; O’Brien County – 3 cases; Buchanan – 3 cases; Webster County – 3 cases; Dubuque – 3 cases; Mills County – 2 cases; Des Moines County – 2 cases; Benton County – 1 case; Keokuk County – 1 case; Monona County – 1 case; Butler County – 1 case; Lucas County – 1 case; Poweshiek County – 1 case; Winneshiek County – 1 case; Johnson County – 1 case; Montgomery County – 1 case; Iowa County – 1 case; Van Buren County – 1 case; Story County – 1 case; Cedar County – 1 case; Dickinson County – 1 case; and Plymouth County – 1 case.
At least six people have been hospitalized. Many people report still being ill with diarrhea and some have had relapses. The Cedar Rapids area has been hardest hit, and there are also a significant number of cases in Des Moines, Sioux City and Waterloo.