January 16, 2018

Iowa Cyclospora Outbreak Grows to 45 Sickened

The Iowa Department of Public Health is reporting that there are now 45 cases of Cyclospora infections reported to officials in that state alone, up from 22 last week. Almost all have been diagnosed through testing at the State Hygienic Lab. Epidemiological interviews with the ill persons indicate that fresh vegetables, rather than fruit, are implicated as a likely source of the parasite. Just 10 cases of cyclosporiasis have been reported in Iowa in the last 20 years.

The outbreak case count by country is as follows: Linn (21), Fayette (3), Polk (3), O’Brien (3), Dallas (2), Mills (2), Webster (2), Des Moines (2), Benton (1), Black Hawk (1), Buchanan (1), Johnson (1), Pottawattamie (1), Van Buren (1), and Woodbury (1). Most illnesses began in mid to late JUne. At least one person has been hospitalized. Additional cases have been identified in Nebraska and “other Midwestern states”, according to the news release.

Cyclosporiasis, the disease caused by the Cyclospora parasite, can last up to 2 months if untreated. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, increased gas, stomach cramps, nausea, low-grade fever, muscle aches, and vomiting. The illness is diagnosed with a very specific lab test that is not commonly ordered. Public health officials are asking health care workers to be aware of this outbreak and order the tests if indicated. Treatment is with antibiotics, but recurrence is fairly common.

If you have had any of these symptoms, see your health care provider. Cyclosporiasis is a reportable condition, so your doctor must inform public health officials about this illness. You can help protect yourself by thoroughly washing produce before preparing and eating, but the oocysts are very difficult to wash off with water.

Image Courtesy CDC

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