Fresh produce is thought to be the cause of the recent cyclospora outbreak that started in late June. Over a month ago, Iowa reported finding confirmed cyclospora infections, and from there it managed to spread to 285 people, and spanned across 11 different cities. The CDC has been searching for the source of this potentially dangerous stomach illness that causes stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as other common symptoms. Over 18 of those that became ill had to be hospitalized since the outbreak has begun.
Cyclospora is a single cell parasite that is often found in fresh produce. Dr. Barbara Herwaldt, a CDC medical epidemiologist, has explained that although there has not been a cause of the outbreak found as of yet, it is likely that the bug is being spread through fresh fruits and veggies that originate from tropical climates. At this time, the CDC finds this to be the most likely cause of the outbreak.
Dr. Herwaldt has said that since there has not been one particular food item that has been linked to the cause at this time, it’s difficult to tell for sure if the cases throughout the affected states are linked, or if they are coincidental.
In order to avoid becoming ill from this parasite, officials recommend washing all fresh produce thoroughly before eating it. For those that do find that they become sick with symptoms of cylclospora, it is highly recommended that they seek medical attention right away and request a cyclospora test. It can often be mistaken for a run of the mill intestinal flu, and the only way to determine otherwise is to test for it.
A cyclospora infection has the potential to last over a month, so health officials advise seeking antibiotics to treat the illness as early as possible. If left to run its course without treatment, relapse is possible. For those that have weak immune systems, a longer antibiotic treatment may be necessary to ensure that complete recovery is made.
At this time, the most important thing for people to remember is to wash their fresh produce thoroughly before eating it. People who suspect that they have been infected by the parasite should seek treatment for symptoms so that they can become better without experiencing complications. The illness is easily treatable, but complications, such as dehydration can occur, so individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention as soon as possible.