Almost 500 more people are sick in an outbreak of infections from the microscopic Cyclospora parasite. Sick people have been identified in 34 states.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that there are now 1,063 patients identified as part of multiple outbreaks. Of those with complete information available, 79 have been so sick they had to be admitted to hospitals. No one has died.
The new tally is 482 more than the CDC reported in its July 13 update. Sick people range in age from 2 to 96 years old, with a median age of 50. The median illness onset date is June 8. The CDC has been tracking the outbreaks since April, though additional people were likely infected before that date.
“No specific food items have been identified as the source of most of these illnesses. State and local public health officials are interviewing people with cyclosporiasis to find out what foods they ate before getting sick,” according to the CDC.
The outbreak count includes 20 patients in Georgia and Alabama whose infections were found to be linked to raw imported broccoli. The broccoli outbreak appears to be over, according to the CDC. Public health officials were not able to determine a specific brand or producer of the broccoli.
Cyclospora parasites are often associated with various types of fresh produce, including basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries, and snow peas. Food safety experts say washing products does not remove the parasite.
The large cyclospora outbreak is separate from others being tracked by the Food and Drug Administration. For the three outbreaks under investigation by the FDA, the agency has not reported what states are involved. It has not discovered what food is the source of the parasite.
Cyclospora outbreak details
A Cyclospora outbreak announced this past week has sickened at least 47 people, up from 39 people a week ago. The FDA and state investigators have initiated sample collection and testing, but the FDA has not reported what is being tested. The FDA reports that it has begun traceback efforts but has not reported what food or foods it is tracing. The agency has not released any patient information.
For another outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanensis, the case count has increased from 68 to 69 patients in the past week. The outbreak was first announced on June 14. The FDA has initiated traceback and onsite inspections and has begun sample collection and analysis. However, the agency has not reported what location is being inspected or what food is being sampled. The FDA has not released any patient information, including where the patients live.
In a third outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanensis, the patient count has increased from 121 to 140. The FDA reports having begun traceback and on-site inspections but has not revealed what food is being traced or what site is being inspected. The outbreak was first announced July 6.
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 somehow 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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