THURSDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials are
continuing to search for the source of a nationwide stomach bug
outbreak as the number of cases has topped 600, with 601 illnesses
reported in 22 states.
According to statistics released Wednesday from the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 40 people, or 9
percent, have been hospitalized with severe cases of cyclospora
infection. No deaths have been reported.
The source of the outbreak in at least two states was traced
earlier this month to Taylor Farms, which supplied salad mix to
Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants and is the Mexican branch
of Taylor Farms of Salinas, Calif.
Taylor Farms de Mexico has "officially informed FDA that, as of
Aug. 9, 2013, the company voluntarily suspended production and
shipment of any salad mix, leafy green, or salad mix components
from its operations in Mexico to the United States," according to
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"To date, only the salad mix has been implicated in the outbreak of cyclosporiasis in Iowa and Nebraska," the FDA said. The agency added it is still trying to determine whether the prepackaged salad mix was the source of infections in the other states.
States that now have recorded cases of cyclospora infection
include Texas (250), Iowa (155), Nebraska (86), Florida (31),
Wisconsin (16), Illinois (11), Arkansas (10), New York City (7),
Georgia (5), Missouri (5), Kansas (4), Louisiana (3), New Jersey
(3), Connecticut (2), Minnesota (2), New York (2), Ohio (2),
Virginia (2), California (1), New Hampshire (1), South Dakota (1),
Tennessee (1) and Wyoming (1).
Meanwhile, U.S. health officials said the overall investigation
Prior outbreaks of cyclospora infection have typically been
caused by tainted produce, the CDC noted.
One expert said recently that while cyclospora can make people
very ill, it is not usually life-threatening.
"On the infectious disease scale, this ranks well below the more notorious and dangerous ailments like E. coliand salmonella," said Dr. Lewis Marshall Jr., chairman of the outpatient services at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in New York City.
"It is unlikely to be fatal, but certainly can make one's life miserable," he added. "Symptoms include crampy abdominal pain, watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, bloating, nausea, fatigue, fever, headache and body aches."
Cases of cyclosporiasis are caused by a single-celled parasite
and cannot be spread from person to person. The parasite has to be
ingested via contaminated water or foods such as fruit and
vegetables, according to Dr. Monica Parise, chief of the parasitic
diseases branch at the CDC.
"It can be pretty miserable, because it can give diarrhea that can last for days," Parise said.
It takes about a week for people who are infected to become
Marshall said there may be more cases of cyclospora infection
out there than people realize. It is possible "that most
occurrences go unreported, as many people wouldn't recognize the
symptoms as any different than a common stomach bug," he said.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, has urged people who have
suffered from diarrhea for longer than a couple of days to be
tested for cyclospora.
"If not treated, symptoms can last from a few days to a month or longer, go away and then return later," Marshall said. "Cyclospora can be treated with an antibiotic combination of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole [Bactrim]."
The best option, however, is to avoid the bug altogether.
"The safest way to protect oneself and one's family is to always rinse fresh produce under water, and even put vegetables in a cold water bath ahead of time to properly clean them," Marshall advised.
One expert stressed that the wash-your-produce rule includes
"Wash all your fruits and salads before ingesting," said Dr. Salvatore Pardo, vice chairman of the emergency department at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. "My hunch is the public does not do this to 'prepackaged' salad, which is normally purchased for convenience and dumped into the bowl since it tends to be free from particles -- dirt, sand, critters -- one would normally find in locally picked ingredients."
For more information on cyclospora, visit the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
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