July 22, 2018

Cyclospora Outbreak: 267 Sick, 8 Hospitalized

A multi-state Cyclospora outbreak has sickened at least 267 people and hospitalized eight of them, according to federal and state health authorities involved in a collaborative investigation. The rare parasite has infected at least 127 people Iowa, 68 people in Nebraska, 65 people in Texas, 4 people in Wisconsin, 2 people in Illinois and 1 person in Kansas.

CyclosporaHealth authorities are uncertain if all the cases are part of the same outbreak, but Cyclospora is a rare parasite. Some states can go for years without a single reported case.  “Iowa typically gets almost no cases reported, and now have over 100 in a couple weeks,” said Patricia Quinlisk, MD, Iowa’s State Epidemiologist. And in Nebraska, which now has 68 cases, there have only been two other cases reported since 2007.

No common events or social gatherings have been identified as a possible source of exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health authorities are looking a possible food sources. Imported vegetables are among the suspects. Lettuce served at a restaurant has been mentioned by some case patients. Most of the onset dates have ranged from mid-June to early July so it is likely that the contaminated item is longer in circulation.

Cyclospora is most commonly found in tropical climates. In the past, illnesses in the U.S. have been linked to travel or imported produce including mesclun lettuce, basil, snow peas, and raspberries. People become infected with Cyclospora when they eat or drink food or water containing microscopic amounts of fecal matter contaminated with the parasite. Symptoms, which can persist for up to two months, include watery or explosive diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gassiness, abdominal cramps, weight loss, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, fatigue and malaise.  See a doctor if you have had these symptoms for more than a few days especially if you have sunken eyes, reduced urine output, reduced tear production or dry mouth or tongue, which are symptoms of dehydration.

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