July 18, 2018

Cyclospora Parasite Sickens 362 in 15 States, 18 Hospitalized

A rare parasite, called Cyclospora, that has sickened 362 people in 15 states has health officials scrambling to determine exactly how large the multi-state outbreak is. Cyclospora, which can cause diarrhea and other symptoms lasting up to two months, is rare and usually associated with travel to tropical and sub-tropical regions, so when large numbers pop up it’s unusual.

cyclospora-outbreak-384Over the last five years, an annual average of 147 cases have been reported nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  But in the last month, 362 cases have been reported from 15 states that told Food Poisoning Bulletin today their current cases totals are as follows: Iowa (140), Texas (101), Florida (23), Wisconsin (7), New York City* (4), Georgia (3), Illinois* (3) Connecticut (2), Missouri (2), Nebraska (72), Arkansas (1), Kansas *(1), Minnesota (1), New Jersey (1), Ohio (1), (*Notes: One of the cases in Illinois was likely exposed while visiting Iowa. The case in Kansas was likely exposed while visiting Nebraska. There are no cases in New York outside of New York City. The total number of cases in this story is current per each state today and therefore exceeds the number on the CDC’s most recent update.) Eighteen people have been hospitalized.

Health officials don’t know how many of the cases to consider as part of a multi-state outbreak. The cases in Iowa, Nebraska and Texas are considered associated. They have also been unable to identify a food source at this time, although imported vegetables, which have been the source of other U.S. Cyclospora outbreaks are suspected. Restaurant lettuce has been mentioned by some case patients.

Cyclospora is transmitted when someone eats or drinks something that is contaminated with microscopic amounts of fecal matter from an infected person. Symptoms can take about two weeks to develop and include watery or explosive diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gassiness, abdominal cramps, weight loss, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, fatigue and malaise. Anyone experiencing these symptoms for more than a few days should see a doctor especially if your eyes look sunken or you have reduced urine output, reduced tear production or dry mouth or tongue, which are symptoms of dehydration.

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