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Two dozen more confirmed in parasite outbreak linked to Del Monte

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Lab tests have confirmed more than two dozen additional people who ate items from Del Monte pre-cut vegetable trays are infected with Cyclospora parasites. Overall, seven have been hospitalized.

The total as of July 5 stood at 212 infected people across four states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A week earlier the CDC’s count was 185 cases. The week before that there were 144. In the initial outbreak announcement on June 15, there were 78 people  with confirmed parasitic infections.

The first person known to be infected became sick on May 14. The most recent victim became sick on June 13. However, illnesses that began after May 24  might not have been reported yet because of the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported, according to the CDC.

An update from the Food and Drug Administration on July 5 reported the agency has not yet determined which item(s) on the Del Monte vegetable and dip trays is the source of the Cyclospora parasites. Similarly, the CDC’s update did not reference a specific item from the trays, but it does appear to have strengthened its language regarding the outbreak.

In its June 15, 28 and 28 outbreak statements the CDC reported the victims were “people who reportedly consumed” pre-packaged Del Monte Fresh Produce vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and dill dip.

This week’s CDC update showed slightly stronger wording. It said 212 laboratory-confirmed cases of Cyclospora infection were reported in “people who consumed” food from the pre-packaged Del Monte trays. 

The sick people are spread across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. They range in age from 13 to 79 years old. 

On June 8, Del Monte recalled 6-ounce and 12-ounce vegetable trays from retail locations. On June 15 Del Monte recalled 28-ounce trays. All sizes had best-by dates of June 17 or earlier, so officials say there is little chance anyone still has any of the products. However, anyone who purchased these trays before the recall should immediately throw them away and clean and disinfect anything they came into contact with.

Del Monte reported to the FDA that the recalled products were distributed to: Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond’s, Sentry, Potash, Meehan’s, Country Market, FoodMax Supermarket and Peapod in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

“FDA has not identified which of the ingredients is the vehicle for this outbreak; each component of these vegetable trays is under consideration. FDA is currently reviewing distribution and supplier information related to the vegetable trays; the investigation is ongoing,” according to the FDA’s update this week.

Anyone who ate anything from any of the recalled vegetable and dip trays and developed symptoms of Cyclospora infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors abut the potential exposure to the parasite. Specific lab tests are required to diagnose the infection, which has symptoms that can be confused with other illnesses.

The time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about 1 week. Cyclospora infects the bowel and usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted. Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms.

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