July 16, 2018

Number One Food Poisoning Outbreak of 2017: Cyclospora

The number one food poisoning outbreak for 2017 was the huge Cyclospora outbreak that sickened more than 1,000 people in the United States. As of September 17, 2017, the last CDC update stated there were 1,054 laboratory confirmed cases in 40 states. This outbreak was not solved.

Cyclospora Outbreak 9:2:17

Every summer there is an increase in cyclosporiasis cases in this country and around the world. The illness is usually seen among people who travel internationally to countries where this parasite is endemic. But 592 of those sickened did not report any international travel.

The case count by state of those 592 patients is: Arizona (1), California (10), Colorado (6), Connecticut (23), Florida (78), Georgia (13), Illinois (17), Indiana (4), Iowa (14), Kansas (2), Louisiana (12), Maryland (12), Massachusetts (14), Michigan (3), Minnesota (13), Mississippi (1), Missouri (13), Montana (2), Nebraska (5), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (19), New Mexico (1), New York (excluding NYC) (15), New York City (32), North Carolina (48), Ohio (17), Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island (2), South Carolina (7), South Dakota (4), Tennessee (4), Texas (172), Utah (1), Virginia (9), Washington (1), West Virginia (2), and Wisconsin (9). The most recent case was reported on September 13, 2017.

Public health officials have not identified any possible vehicle. Outbreaks in other years have been linked to different kinds of imported fresh produce, including cilantro, mesclun lettuce, snow peas, and raspberries.

The symptoms of cyclosporiasis include loss of appetite, weight. loss, increased gas, nausea, fatigue, stomach cramps and pain, vomiting, and watery and explosive diarrhea. These symptoms can go away and recur and can last for months.

The parasite is spread through the fecal-oral route. That means contaminated feces gets onto produce in the field, during harvest, transportation, or processing. The illness isn’t spread person-to-person, since the oocyst must sporulate after it is expelled from the body, a process that takes about a week.

The only way to prevent this illness is to cook the foods you are eating. It is difficult, if not impossible, to rinse or wash the cyclospora oocysts off of contaminated produce.

If you have been experiencing the symptoms of Cyclospora food poisoning, see your doctor. The illness is treatable with antibiotics.

 

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