Federal health officials continue to identify more patients in four ongoing foodborne illness outbreaks.
An outbreak of E. coli infections from an unknown source has seen the number of patients increase to 12 from 11 a week ago. According to a release from the FDA, investigators have initiated tracing efforts, but the agency has not reported which foods or foods are being traced. The FDA has not released patient information, including patient residency.
In an outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanensis, the number of cases rose from 38 to 43 in the past week. According to the FDA, this incident now includes additional diseases based on similarities in the reported exposures. However, the authority has not reported which exposures are involved. The FDA has initiated on-site inspections and has begun sample collection and analysis. However, the agency has not disclosed which location will be inspected or which foods will be sampled. The FDA has not released any patient information, including patient residency.
In a separate outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanensis, the number of cases has increased from 112 to 118 cases. Cyclospora parasites are commonly associated with several types of fresh produce, including basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries, and sugar snap peas. Food safety experts say laundry detergent doesn’t remove the parasite.
The third outbreak of the Cyclospora parasite infected at least 210 people in 22 states. Health authorities have not yet determined the source of the parasite.
According to an update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, federal, state and local health officials are investigating the outbreak.
The CDC and Food and Drug Administration have been tracking the outbreak since April 1. Other infections may have started before that date.
More than 210 people are likely involved in the current outbreak due to the delay between the patients becoming ill and the completion of confirmatory testing and submission of the results to the CDC. Some sufferers do not see a doctor, which also affects the number of outbreaks. The parasite is killed by the use of antibiotics. Special tests are needed to diagnose Cyclospora infections, which can mimic other diseases.
Anyone who develops symptoms of Cyclospora infection and has reason to believe they have been exposed to the parasite should see a doctor. Special tests are required and antibiotics are used to fight the parasite.
Cyclospora infection can cause severe abdominal pain, watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, body aches, and fatigue. Symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. Although symptoms can be severe enough to require hospitalization, it is rare for people to die from Cyclospora infection.
Cyclospora is a type of protozoan, a tiny, unicellular organism. Transmission occurs when people ingest contaminated feces by any means, typically via contaminated food or water. Unlike E. coli and Salmonella, which can also be spread through animal feces, it can only be spread through human feces.