Many recent headlines have been about the cyclospora outbreak, a disease that has spread in states across the nation, particularly affecting people in Nebraska and Iowa. The Nebraska/Iowa outbreak has been linked to prepackaged salad mix—although officials have not released which brands may have been the source—and has affected hundreds of people in the two states. Yahoo! News reports the official count in Nebraska as 78 cases and more than 100 in Iowa.
The Nebraska health department is working with the FDA to determine the source of the infected products and ensure they have been removed from grocery shelves and restaurants.
“Our goal is to protect Nebraskans, pinpoint the source of the illness and make sure the risk is eliminated,” said Dr. Joseph Acierno, Nebraska’s chief medical officer and director of public health.
While health officials are addressing the problem and lessening the risk of infection, it can still be useful to understand what cyclospora is and what to look for to find out if you have it.
Mayo Clinic defines cyclospora as a parasite stemming from ingesting contaminated food or water, particularly produce. It can cause diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting—just to name a few. Since the symptoms match those of other illnesses, it can be difficult to diagnose. If you have these symptoms and the diarrhea lasts longer than a couple of days or more serious symptoms emerge, it is always best to consult your physician to identify the cause. Once you discuss symptoms with your doctor, he/she can order the test to diagnose cyclospora, if it is deemed necessary. If you do have cyclospora, it can be treated with antiobiotics.
To prevent contraction of the illness, take food safety precautions such as avoiding contaminated produce per health officials’ suggestions and always thoroughly washing all produce—even prepackaged produce like salad mixes.
Here’s CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook with more information.