February 28, 2020

Cyclospora Outbreak in Iowa and Nebraska Investigated

The law firm of Pritzker Hageman has been contacted regarding the cyclospora outbreak in Iowa and Nebraska. At least 48 people have been sickened by this parasite in those states. Most illnesses began in mid to late June. At least one person in Iowa has been hospitalized.

cyclospora-outbreak-384Fred Pritzker, noted food safety attorney said, “Cyclospora is a rare, but virulent foodborne pathogen.  Pritzker Hageman attorneys are looking into the source of this outbreak.  We have been contacted by several sickened individuals.  If you think you may be part of this outbreak it is important to see a doctor immediately for diagnosis.”

The last multistate cyclospora outbreak in the United States was in 1997, linked to raspberries imported from Guatemala. An outbreak in Pennsylvania in 2000 sickened 54 people who were guests at a wedding, also associated with Guatemalan raspberries. Other outbreaks were associated with mesclun lettuce and basil. The oocysts are very hardy and can live for weeks outside a host.

The parasite causes watery diarrhea that lasts an average of 57 days if not treated. Other symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetitite, weight loss, bloating, increased gas, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches. Treatment is with antibiotics, along with fluid and electrolyte replacement if necessary.

Cyclospora is a reportable illness. Symptoms usually begin about one week after being infected with Cyclospora cayetanensis. Symptoms may recur more than once if the illness is not treated. The parasite is difficult to diagnose because very specific lab tests are needed. Public health officials are warning health care providers to be on the lookout for this illness and to order the test if symptoms indicate this infection may be present.

Graphic courtesy CDC

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