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Parasite Continues To Run the Table: 373 Illnesses in 15 States

Edit: This article has been updated to reflect an additional 20 reported illnesses, up to 373 from 353, according to CIDRAP.

Going into this past weekend, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD) in Atlanta said there were 353 Cyclospora cases in 15 states. (CIDRAP reports an additional 20.) The runaway parasite caused illnesses with onset dates from mid-June to early July, sending at least 21 people to hospitals in three states.

State and federal health officials have so far declined to name the food or water source carrying the single cell parasite. Fresh produce is the most likely source.

CDC says it’s not yet clear whether all the illnesses are part of a single outbreak or whether multiple sources are involved. At this point, CDC is counting any Cyclospora infection confirmed by a state where the person became ill in June or July 2012 without any history of travel outside North America during the 14 days prior to the onset of the illness.

Cyclospora is known for leaving its victims with flu-like symptoms that don’t go away, at least not for some time.

They include on and off watery diarrhea and low-grade fevers.  Weight loss, bloating, fatigue and some vomiting follow, along with lots of gas.   Most people who are hospitalized with the infection are dehydrated.

Anyone with dry mouth and tongue, little need to urinate and bouts of dizziness should seek medical attention.

CDC is asking state and local health laboratories to use a rapid confirmation method known as telediagnosis. It says images may be captured from modified acid-fast stained smears or from wet mounts examined by UV fluorescence microscopy. Both techniques require concentrated stool specimens.

The current outbreak investigation began last June 28 with two case reports in Iowa.

The last large Cyclospora outbreak in the U.S. in the late 1990s was eventually traced to imported raspberries from Guatemala.

© Food Safety News
  • Meg

    Flu-like symptoms do not usually include GI symptoms, rather, the flu is a respiratory virus that can cause fever & aches.

    • B Park

      Doctors regularly prescribe antibiotics for whatever reason, causing the GI symptoms. Also kids do get GI symptoms (rotavirus) but you’re right, has nothing to do with flu