Dozens of metro Atlanta area residents have parasitic infections from food they ate at Buckhead and Chastain Park restaurants. The illnesses are among 358 Cyclospora infections reported from 26 states.
Cyclospora is a parasite usually associated with travel to developing countries. The infection it produces, called cyclosporiasis, causes profuse, often explosive, diarrhea that can last two months or more. Other cyclosporiasis symptoms, which can also last more than 60 days, include abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, body aches, low-grade fever, and other flu-like symptoms.
Cilantro imported from the Puebla region of Mexico has been identified as the source of at least some of the illnesses. Clusters of illness associated with food from restaurants have been identified in Georgia, Wisconsin and Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2013, Cyclospora in commercial bagged salad mix produced by Taylor Farms of Mexico and served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants sickened 227 people in Iowa and Nebraska.
Ryan Osterholm, a noted food safety attorney, represented an Iowa woman who contracted a Cyclospora infection after eating at an Olive Garden. Her illnesses lasted several weeks and included three trips to the emergency room, according to the complaint.