An outbreak of the foodborne illness cyclosporiasis has sickened at least 170 people in the Midwest and health officials are searching for the origins of these infections. Raw vegetables are suspected to be the cause of the many reports, but health officials have yet to confirm this. News of the illness have been cited in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, and as of today, in Dallas County, Texas. Reports of more cases are expected as news of the disease spreads and those who believe that they are infected seek medical attention.
Cyclospora is an intestinal disease caused by the Cyclospora cayetanensis parasite that can lead to symptoms such as watery diarrhea, cramping, fatigue, vomiting, and low-grade fever. According to the CDC, Cyclospora cayetanensis is most commonly spread through the consumption of food or water contaminated with feces and in the United States, outbreaks of cyclosporiasis since the 1990s have been traced to produce including raspberries, basil, and lettuce. So far, frozen foods have not been linked as the cause of any such outbreaks.
Although there are treatments for cyclospriasis (antibacterials such as Bactrim and Septra), the CDC states that most people with a healthy immune system can recover without treatment. Without treatment, the symptoms may last anywhere from a few days to a month. The infection is typically not life threatening. The CDC advises those with compromised immune systems should seek a health care provider as they may be at a higher risk for severe illness.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published guidelines for produce growers to reduce the opportunity for a cyclosporiasis outbreak. There is no vaccine for cyclosporiasis, so the best method of prevention is avoiding contaminated food and water.
"Cyclospora outbreak sickens more than 170 in Midwest." (2013): n. page. Print. <http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/07/17/cyclospora-outbreak-sickens-mor….
Schnirring, Lisa. University of Minnesota. Three more states probe Cyclospora cases, links to outbreak. 2013. Web. <http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Parasites: Cyclosporiasis (Cyclospora Infection). Atlanta: , 2013. Web. <http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/>.
United States Food and Drug Administration. Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Washington, DC. 1998 <http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformatio…