An outbreak of infections from the Cyclospora parasite that sickened hundreds in Florida in 2022 is just now being reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report did not say why the agency delayed revealing information about the outbreak, which it attributed to an unnamed brand of packaged salad.

In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released on July 7, the CDC says 486 people in Florida were infected by the microscopic parasite in the outbreak. In total, Florida posted 513 conformed infections from the parasite in 2022, according to the CDC report.

“The Florida Department of Health required that county public health personnel complete the CDC Cyclosporiasis National Hypothesis Generating Questionnaire for all patients with illness onset dates during May 1-August 31, 2022,” according to the CDC report this week.

“Among 457 completed questionnaires . . . 200 reported exposure to bagged salad, a commercially produced package of prewashed salad greens. Among respondents reporting exposure to bagged salad, 85 (43%) noted a specific brand of Caesar salad kit containing only romaine lettuce, from a specific grocery store chain.”

Cyclosporiasis was first reported in 1979, and the organism was identified and named in 1994, according to the CDC outbreak announcement. In recent years, the number of reported U.S. cases has been increasing: cases more than doubled from 537 in 2016 to 1,194 in 2017, and then nearly tripled, to 3,519 cases in 2018; in 2019, 4,703 cyclosporiasis cases were reported.

Recently, the parasite has been found on domestically grown produce, and infections have been attributed to these foods. Produce washing may decrease but will not eliminate the parasite.

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