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This Summer’s Parasites and Viruses Continue to Make People Sick

This summer’s two prolonged outbreaks, one caused by a parasite and the other by a rare Hepatitis A virus, are continuing to add confirmed cases. Neither the parasite nor the viruses are common to North America, but both have moved in for an extended stay.

As of Sept. 3, the Hepatitis A virus has sickened 161 people in 10 states, including Arizona (23), California (78), Colorado (28), Hawaii (8), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (11), Nevada (6), Utah (3) and Wisconsin (2).

The common source for the rare virus strain was a frozen berry mix called “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” sold by Costco stores.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the four cases attributed to Wisconsin, New Jersey and New Hampshire involved consumption of the virus-contaminated berries in Western states. Six other cases are thought to be due to secondary exposure to other confirmed cases.

The illnesses are winding down as the onset dates for the illnesses range from March 31 to July 26. Almost half of those sickened (70) required hospitalization, but no deaths have been reported.

The majority of victims, or 55 percent, are women. Ages range from one to 84 years of age. Eleven children younger than 18 years were ill, and none were vaccinated for Hep A. The bulk of those sickened, or 57 percent, fell between 40 and 64 years of age.

Summer’s other lingering outbreak involving the Cyclospora parasite has reached 659 cases in 24 states. Texas, where the outbreak has hit hard in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, has seen its case count exceed 300 for the first time, coming in at 305.

After Texas comes Iowa (156), Nebraska (86), Florida (32), Wisconsin (16), Illinois (11), Arkansas (10), Georgia (5), New York, (7) Missouri (5), Kansas (4), New Jersey (4) Louisiana (3), Virginia, (3) Connecticut (2), Ohio (2), Minnesota (2), and one each for Michigan, California, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming.
Like the other outbreak, in a handful of cases the parasites were likely acquired outside of the state where the case was reported.

The Iowa-Nebraska cases were sourced to a mixed salad from Taylor Farms de Mexico, which were served by Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, among other outlets.

Taylor suspended product shipments to the U.S. from Aug. 12-25, 2013. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the other states continue work to source the illnesses in those states.

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