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Health Agencies Probe Outbreak of Intestinal Bug

Several states affected (July 22)

The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Cyclospora infections possibly linked to undetermined food products.

As of July 18, the CDC has been notified of more than 200 cases of Cyclospora-related illnesses in residents of multiple states, including Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, and Wisconsin. Illinois has also notified the CDC of one case that may have been acquired out of state. It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak. The investigation into these illnesses continues.

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a single-cell parasite that causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis. The parasite is spread by people ingesting something — such as food or water — that has been contaminated. Cyclospora needs time (days to weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person. Therefore, it is unlikely that the parasite is passed directly from one person to another.

People living or travelling in countries where cyclosporiasis is endemic, including certain tropical or subtropical regions of the world, may be at increased risk for infection.

The time between becoming infected and becoming sick is usually about 1 week. Cyclospora infects the small intestine and usually causes watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted. Some people who are infected with Cyclospora are asymptomatic. If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return.

Source: FDA; July 22, 2013.

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