Diarrhea Inducing Infections May Be Ending

By the Iowa Department of Public Health


By Adam Carros

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) continues to receive reports of confirmed cases of Cyclospora infection, but numbers are decreasing. In addition, the onset dates of the illness suggest the ill people had eaten the contaminated food in mid-June. This is a very good indication the food which was the source of the outbreak has already been consumed or discarded, since fresh vegetables have a limited shelf life. At no time was an Iowa-grown fruit or vegetable suspected to be the cause of the outbreak.

IDPH encourages Iowans to make fruits and vegetables part of their daily diet. It is always a good idea to wash all fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

“We know fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) has been implicated in previous Cyclospora outbreaks, and interviews with those who have been ill indicate vegetables were probably the source of this outbreak,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “The illness onset dates, coupled with the shelf life of fresh produce, make it very likely the vegetable that was the source of the outbreak has already been eaten or thrown away, and will not cause anyone else to become ill.”

IDPH continues to work with the CDC, other states, other Iowa state agencies and local public health agencies in the investigation of the Cyclospora outbreak to ensure there is no continuing exposure to contaminated food, and to try to understand how the food became contaminated in the first place.

As of today, 81 cases of Cyclospora infections have been reported to IDPH; almost all have been identified through testing at the State Hygienic Lab (SHL), including:

Linn County - 31 cases
Polk County - 5 cases
Pottawattamie County - 5 cases
Black Hawk County - 4 cases
Fayette County - 3 cases
O’Brien County - 3 cases
Dallas County - 3 cases
Buchanan County - 3 cases
Webster County - 3 cases
Boone County - 3 cases
Mills County - 2 cases
Des Moines County - 2 cases
Dubuque County - 2 cases
Benton County - 1 case
Keokuk County - 1 case
Monona County - 1 case
Butler County - 1 case
Winneshiek County - 1 case
Johnson County - 1 case
Montgomery County - 1 case
Iowa County - 1 case
Van Buren County - 1 case
Story County - 1 case
Cedar County - 1 case
Woodbury County - 1 case
At least five people have been hospitalized. Many people report still being ill with diarrhea and some have had relapses. Specific treatment is available (but it is not typically used for more common diarrheal illnesses). Also, very specific laboratory testing (not commonly ordered) must be done to detect Cyclospora.

People become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite, which causes a watery diarrhea that lasts an average of 57 days if untreated. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis include:

Watery diarrhea
Fatigue (severe tiredness)
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
Increased gas
Stomach cramps
Muscle aches
Low-grade fever
For more information, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/EHI/Issue.aspx?issue=Cyclospora Outbreak Investigation.

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