Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Cyclospora Outbreak in Midwestern States Grows to 267 with More Cases in Iowa

Source of outbreak likely vegetable, but still unknown

Iowa state officials on Tuesday said they have received reports of nine more cases of Cyclospora infections, bringing the total number affected by the outbreak in the state to 127 and to 267 total in six Midwestern states, according to the latest count by Food Safety News.

A source has still not been identified for the outbreak, which centers in Iowa, Nebraska and Texas, but also involves a handful of victims in Wisconson, Illinois, and Kansas. The most recent case count, based on a tally from officials in each state is as follows: Iowa (127 illnesses), Nebraska (68), Texas (65), Wisconsin (4), Illinois (2), Kansas (1). The Iowa Department of Public Health said Tuesday that that the number of cases reported is decreasing and that the state plans to release another case count Wednesday at approximately 10 a.m.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the official outbreak count at 250 cases, but said “it is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak.”

According to CDC, the cases in Kansas and Illinois may have been acquired out of state and “additional cases are currently under investigation and will be included on this page as states confirm them.” In all, at least 10 people have been hospitalized.

Cyclospora is a parasite and it could have been passed onto fresh food via contaminated water, but officials have not named any particular food, but have said they do believe it was foodborne and that it likely not a fruit but a fresh vegetable.

“This is a very good indication the food which was the source of the outbreak has already been consumed or discarded, since fresh vegetables have a limited shelf life,” IDPH said in its most recent update. “At no time was an Iowa-grown fruit of vegetable suspected to be the cause of the outbreak.

IDPH also said it recommended eating fresh fruits and vegetables, but suggested washing produce “thoroughly” before eating.

Cyclospora infection causes a watery diarrhea that lasts an average of 57 days, if untreated, according to IDPH. Most of the illnesses in the current outbreak began in mid to late June. Many people report still being ill and some have had relapses, according to the update.

Anyone experiencing diarrhea, or have recently had a long bout with diarrhea, should contact their health care provider and see if they should be tested for Cyclospora infection.

Photo courtesy of flickr Creative Commons.

© Food Safety News
  • Joyce

    Why does it take so long to find the source? It seems with new cases coming up, there must still be tainted food somewhere available?

  • Jim

    I got it this morning. My whole family in the past two days. We attended a cook out, and we all had one dish in common-baked beans.

  • Microbiology tech KK

    Joyce, it is very difficult to track down the source. Syptoms may not appear for several days, and most people don’t go to the doctor immediately because they assume the problem will go away on on it’s own. After they finally go to the doctor, depending on the lab doing the testing, it may take a couple of days for the results to be reported. In Florida where I live, each lab has 3 days from teh date they get the positive result to report it to the State Health Dept. By the time the HD gets the report, it may be 2 weeks or more since the patient was infected. The HD has to interview the patient (and may not get to it rigth away) to find out exactly what they ate, where they purchased the food, if they prepared it themselves or ate in a restaurant, etc. Most people don’t remember enough detail from 2 or more weeks ago, so until the epidemiologists have some foods in common among everyone infected, they don’t even know where to start.

  • Micro tech KK

    It is highly unlikely baked beans would be a carrier for Cyclospora, as the organism would be destroyed on cooking or canning and is not usually passed person-to-person. Picnics are often a source of food poisoining caused by Salmonella, Shigella, or Campylobacter (all bacteria, not protozoa like Cyclospora). All of these bacteria are often passed person-to-person do to poor hygiene practices of the food handler or preparer. Any food not cooked to at least 165 degrees, not kept cold enough during storage, or not kept hot enough while being served is a potential source of bacterial food poisoning. Viral illness is also a possibility. Cyclospora is associated with raw produce – fruits and vegetables only. Jim, if your family’s symptoms don’t go away within 48 hours or you have very small children or elderly family members at risk of dehydration, please see a doctor for appropriate testing (stool culture and an ova and parasites test)

  • Tom Chandler

    I live in vermont and have all the symptoms of a cyclospora inferction. Four days before onset I was in CT a short while. I ate at two places, a Wendys with a burger, lettuce, tomatoe, and baked potatoe, and Fivegugs Burgers with a chesse burger w fried onions. I heard that Ct had a report of cyclospora infection?

    • Gabriella

      We also live around Southern VT and have similar symptoms going around the family for a couple of weeks. I am afraid it might be Cyclospora…It just does not go away: nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, loss of appetite…