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Cryptosporidium Outbreak Sickened 300 in UK Last Year

Approximately 300 people in England and Scotland were sickened in an outbreak of Cryptosporidium in May of 2012, announced public health authorities this week.

The parasite that caused the outbreak is thought to have originated in ready-to-eat bagged salad mixes, said England’s Health Protection Agency in a report published Tuesday.

“The strongest association with infection was found to be with consumption of ready to eat pre-cut mixed salad leaves from a major supermarket chain,” said HPA in its outbreak report.

The supermarket chain was not named.

HPA says the outbreak did not last long, affecting people only during the month of May. Illnesses ranged from mild to moderate, and no deaths were reported in connection to the outbreak.

“As this was an isolated and short lived outbreak there is no specific action for the public to take,” said Dr. Stephen Morton, regional director of HPA’s Yorkshire and the Humber region and head of the Outbreak Control Team, “but we hope the investigations between the FSA and the food industry will help to prevent further outbreaks of this type from happening again.”

Cryptosporidium is a parasite that infects humans and animals. It is a resilient organism that can survive for long periods of time outside the body, and is tolerant of chlorine disinfection. Cryptosporidium is most commonly transmitted through water. Cryptosporidiosis (the infection caused by Cryptosporidium) is characterized by stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. Symptoms generally last one to two weeks, but can last up to a month.

Illness can be more severe in people with compromised immune systems.

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