SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

FDA looks into multi-state outbreak of Cyclospora

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating a multi-state outbreak of Cyclospora infections that may be linked to undetermined food products, the agency announced on Tuesday.

The FDA is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local officials to learn as much as possible and prevent additional infections. As of Monday, the CDC was notified of more than 250 cases of Cyclospora infections in residents of Connecticut, Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas, Nebraska and Iowa. Illinois and Kanas also notified the CDC of one case each that may have been acquired out of state.

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a one-cell parasite that causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis. Cyclospora is spread by contaminated food or water and is rarely spread from person to person. The time between infection and becoming sick is approximately one week.

Symptoms of Cyclospora infection include watery diarrhea and frequent, occasionally explosive, bowel movements. Other symptoms include fatigue, nausea, increased gas, bloating, stomach cramps and pain, weight loss and loss of appetite. Flu-like symptoms may also occur. If the parasite goes untreated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer.

The FDA recommends consumers practice safe food handling and preparation measures by washing their hands, utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water, prior to and after handling food, including fresh produce.

The FDA and the CDC are unsure whether the cases from all the states are part of the same outbreak. The investigation into the outbreak is ongoing to determine potential outbreak sources.