Officials investigate Cyclospora outbreak

More than 275 people have been sickened in Cyclospora outbreak that spans several states.

Officials still are trying to pin down the source of the infection, although fresh produce is suspected as it has been linked to previous infections. The majority of the cases (at least 127) have occurred in Iowa, followed by Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, Kansas, Connecticut and New Jersey (some cases may be linked to travel), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cyclospora illness is typically traced to consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables contaminated with the parasite; this investigation currently indicates fresh vegetables, not fruit, may be the source of illness,” according to the latest update from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Most cases had an onset of mid-June through early July. It still isn’t clear if all of the cases are linked or if they represent independent infections. So far, 10 people have been hospitalized. The number of cases being reported is decreasing.

Cyclospora is a parasite that spreads when people ingest food or water contaminated with infected feces. In many regions of the world, especially in subtropical or tropical zones, it is considered endemic.  Symptoms include diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach cramps and bloating (although some with cyclosporiasis may not have any symptoms at all).

From 1997 to 2008, 1,110 lab-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis were identified in the U.S.  Of those, 372 (33.5 percent) had a history of international travel. Cases of cyclosporiasis acquired within the U.S. tend to be concentrated in the spring and summer and in the eastern and southeastern area of the country, CDC notes.

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