THURSDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The ongoing outbreak of
stomach illness linked to the cyclospora parasite has now spread to
15 states and New York City, with 378 cases reported, according to
the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report
The source or sources of the nationwide outbreak has not yet
been located, although health officials at two of the hardest-hit
states, Iowa and Nebraska, say they have traced local outbreaks to
an as-yet-unnamed salad mix.
In a posting on its website, the CDC said that it "will continue
to work with federal, state, and local partners in the
investigation to determine whether this conclusion applies to the
increase in cases of cyclosporiasis in other states. It is not yet
clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same
Prior outbreaks of cyclospora infection have typically been
caused by tainted produce, the agency noted.
While no one has died from cyclosporiasis, "at least 21 persons
reportedly have been hospitalized in three states," the CDC said.
Most people got sick between mid-June through early July.
Cases have now been reported from Arkansas, Connecticut,
Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri,
Nebraska, New Jersey, New York City, New York State, Ohio, Texas
Cases of cyclosporiasis, which is caused by a single-celled
parasite and can trigger diarrhea and stomach cramps, have been
mounting through the month of July, said Dr. Monica Parise, chief
of the parasitic diseases branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. The cyclospora parasite cannot be spread
from person to person; it has to be ingested via contaminated water
or foods such as fruit and vegetables.
"It can be pretty miserable, because it can give diarrhea that can last for days," Parise said.
Cyclospora is a tiny parasite but is devastatingly effective,
added Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an attending physician in the division of
infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital in
"You can ingest as few as 10 of these little critters and get sick," Hirsch said.
The first reported cases occurred in Iowa, which has been
hardest hit with 143 people falling ill so far. The first cases
came in late June, with more infections reported through July.
Other states reporting large numbers of infections are Nebraska,
with 78 cases, and Texas, with 101 cases.
It takes about a week for people who are infected to become
Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, urged people who have suffered
from diarrhea longer than a couple of days to be tested for
cyclospora. Antibiotics can be used to treat severe cases of
Earlier outbreaks of cyclospora have been traced back to fruits
and vegetables imported from tropical regions like Latin America
and Southeast Asia, where the parasite is common, Parise and Hirsch
"Our food supply system is large, complex and centralized. We get foods from all over the world, and they are packaged together and sent very, very quickly," Hirsch said. "I look at large outbreaks like this, and it makes me wonder if more locally grown foods would be safer."
People who want to avoid infection should thoroughly wash all
their fruits and vegetables, Hirsch said. They also should wash
cooking surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water.
"For the most part, it's a miserable nuisance, but the concern I have as a doctor is for patients whose immune systems are weakened [and] have a real hard time with this infection," Hirsch said. He urged extra caution for people undergoing cancer treatment, recovering from an organ transplant or dealing with HIV infection.
For more information on cyclospora, visit
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
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