U.S.: No source identified for parasite that made 200 sick

July 23, 2013 at 4:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- More than 200 cases of Cyclospora infection have been reported in multiple states, but U.S. health officials were not sure what the source of the parasite is.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local officials were investigating a multi-state outbreak of Cyclospora infection including Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin, but it is not yet clear if the cases are part of the same outbreak.

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite of one cell, too small to be seen without a microscope, that causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis.

It is spread by people ingesting something -- such as food or water -- that was contaminated with the parasite. It is unlikely that Cyclospora is passed directly from one person to another, health officials said.

The time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about one week and while some people have no symptoms, others might have diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue.

If not treated, the illness might last from a few days to a month or longer, and although symptoms appear to go away and then return one or more times, officials said.

Since no source has been identified, health officials recommend consumers should always practice safe food handling and wash hands, utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food. Fresh produce should be thoroughly washed before it is eaten, officials said.

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