July 16, 2024

CDC Warns About Cyclospora Outbreak; 206 Are Ill

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA are investigating an increase in cyclosporiasis cases. They want to warn public health departments and healthcare facilities about this problem.

Fresh Cilantro

There is an ongoing Cyclospora outbreak right now in Texas, with at least 197 people sick. And as of August 2, 2017, the CDC states that 206 people in 27 states are sick with cyclosporiasis infections. Those patients got sick on or after May 1, 2017. Eighteen people have been hospitalized because their illnesses are so severe. No deaths have been reported.

The CDC has not yet provided a case count map or identified the states where people are sick. No specific food has been identified as possible sources, and officials are working to identify the source. Officials also do not know if these cases are related to each other and the same food items or are caused by several different foods or by other exposure, such as swimming.

This 2017 outbreak is higher than illnesses reported in 2016. As of August 3, 2016, 88 people were sick with cyclosporiasis in the United States. The FDA had increased import inspections and issued more import alerts last year, which may have contributed to the decrease in 2016.

Healthcare providers should now consider a diagnosis of cyclosporiasis in patients with prolonged or remitting-relapsing diarrheal illness. Testing for this parasite is not routinely done in most U.S. laboratories, even when stool samples are tested for parasites. A doctor must specifically order testing for Cyclospora by molecular methods or gastrointestinal pathogen panel test. And since cyclosporiasis is a notifiable disease, doctors must report suspect and confirmed cases to the government.

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. Most people ingest this parasite by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with the parasite. This illness is not transmitted person-to-person.

The symptoms of Cyclospora food poisoning include watery diarrhea, which can be profuse and explosive, along with loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and low grade fever. These symptoms usually begin 2 days to 2 weeks after ingesting the parasite. If not treated, the illness can last for months with relapsing diarrhea.

This parasite is found in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Other outbreaks have been linked to basil, cilantro, raspberries, snow peas, and mesclun lettuce. No frozen or canned produce has been implicated in these outbreaks. These outbreaks usually occur during May through August or September.

If you have been experiencing the symptoms of cyclosporiasis, see your doctor. Treatment is usually with trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX). No effective alternative treatments have been found for patients who are allergic to or cannot tolerate TMP/SMX, so they must be monitored and given palliative care.

Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully helps and represents people hurt by adulterated foods in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for foodborne illness patients and their families, including the largest verdict in American history for a person harmed by E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. You can report an illness to our firm. The firm also publishes the E-news site, Food Poisoning Bulletin, a respected Google News source for food safety news and information.  Pritzker Hageman lawyers are often interviewed as experts on the topic by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the firm represents people harmed by pathogenic microorganisms in Legionnaires‘ disease, surgical site infections, and product liability cases.


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