Yesterday, officials in Iowa have reported that there have been 15 more cases of cyclospora. This infection is caused from rare parasite found in certain foods and drinks, including produce and water. On Saturday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported that the number of cases of cyclospora had climbed to 60.
Monday morning officials in one county of Iowa, Linn County, reported that the number of cases in this area stood at 30, which takes the total number of infections in the state to 71.
While they cannot be certain of the kind of tainted vegetables, investigators are fairly certain that the parasite originated in some kind of vegetables.
Cyclospora is a single cell parasite that causes severe, sometimes explosive diarrhea. It is spread through contaminated food or water. Often, the infection will pass on its own; however, dehydration is a serious concern with this illness. Also, the duration of infection for the very young and old is of concern, which can last for as long as 57 days when not treated.
Antibiotics can help to shorten the duration of the illness, so you may want to see your health care provider if you feel that you might have been infected. Additional symptoms of cyclospora include vomiting, flatulence, burping, cramping stomach, muscle aches, loss of appetite, weight loss, low grade fever, fatigue, bloating and a general feeling of illness.
In the past 20 years, Iowa has only seen 10 cases of cyclospora. This outbreak began around mid-June. It is thought that the vegetables that caused the outbreak have probably already been consumed, sold or thrown away. However, they advise everyone to continue to wash fresh produce extremely well, or cook the vegetables to help kill the parasite.
Researchers think that produce that comes from home gardens is likely not the issue since they believe that the cause of the current outbreak is produce that is sold commercially.
One bit of bright news in this situation is that authorities believe the infection is not spreading; rather, they believe that as more people become aware of the dangers of the parasite, they are choosing to be tested and treated if they test positive for the cyclospora parasite.