More than 100 people are sick in a new outbreak of infections caused by the microscopic Cyclospora parasite, but federal officials have not yet determined the source.
As of July 6, the Food and Drug Administration reported 105 patients had been confirmed in the outbreak. The agency has not reported where the patients live.
Public health officers from the FDA have begun sample collection and analysis, but the agency has not reported what food or foods are being tested.
The new outbreak of Cyclospora infections is the third the FDA has reported so far this year. One of the investigations has been closed without the agency determining the source of the microscopic parasite.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking another outbreak that has sickened 210 people across 22 states as of its most recent update in June. Thirty people in the outbreak have been so sick they required hospitalization.
The CDC first reported on the outbreak on May 25. The first date of onset of the infections was April 1. No specific food items have been identified as the source of the parasite.
The other active Cyclospora outbreak investigation underway by the FDA continues to slowly log more patients. As of this week the outbreak sickened 37 people, up one from the past week. The FDA has not discovered the source of the parasite in this outbreak.
Cyclospora infections generally increase in the summer months but can occur at any time. In the past the infections have been traced to fresh produce such as cilantro and lettuce.
Food safety experts say there’s no evidence that washing produce will remove the parasite.
About Cyclospora infections
Anyone who has developed symptoms of Cyclospora infection, and has reason to believe they have been exposed to the parasite, should seek medical attention. Specific tests are required and antibiotics are used to fight the parasite.
Cyclospora infection can cause severe abdominal pain, watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, body aches, and fatigue. Symptoms can develop between two and 14 days after exposure. Though symptoms can be severe enough to send people to the hospital, it’s rare for people to die from Cyclospora infections.
Cyclospora is a type of protozoa, which is a tiny, single-celled organism. It is transmitted when people ingest contaminated feces, typically through contaminated food or water. It can be spread only through human waste, unlike E. coli and Salmonella, which can also be spread from animal fecal matter.
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