Fresh vegetables are the likely source of the Cyclospora outbreak in Iowa, but public health officials in the state haven’t pinpointed the cause. A statement from the Iowa Department of Public Health said the correlation with unspecified fresh vegetables was derived from scientific food history interviews of case patients. The same epidemiological study found that fruit is not a likely cause.
With the outbreak involving a rare pathogen and a number of additional cases reported in Nebraska and other Midwestern states, public health offiicials in various jurisdictions are revisiting Cyclospora and Cyclosporiasis (the disease it causes). Cyclosporiasis symptoms include a watery diarrhea that lasts an average of 57 days if untreated. Other symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and low-grade fever. The Health Department in Iowa said many people haven’t been able to fully recover, still feeling negative affects after several weeks of malaise.
According to the Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory, nearly every suspected case patient was confirmed via testing as being infected by Cyclospora . Cedar Rapids and the rest of Linn County have been hardest hit. Iowa as a whole has seen 45 Cyclospora infections and nearly half of them have been in Linn County. No other county involved in the outbreak has more than three confirmed cases, the Health Department said.
Cyclospora is a microscopic parasite. The latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that it is most common in tropical or subtropical parts of the world. In the United States, foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis since the mid-1990s have been linked to various types of imported fresh vegetables and fruits, including raspberries, basil, snow peas, and mesclun lettuce.