A  A  A   Print
Cases Reported in Stomach Bug Outbreak Top 600

Cases Reported in Stomach Bug Outbreak Top 600

THURSDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials are continuing to search for the source of a nationwide stomach bug outbreak as the number of cases has topped 600, with 601 illnesses reported in 22 states.

According to statistics released Wednesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 40 people, or 9 percent, have been hospitalized with severe cases of cyclospora infection. No deaths have been reported.

The source of the outbreak in at least two states was traced earlier this month to Taylor Farms, which supplied salad mix to Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants and is the Mexican branch of Taylor Farms of Salinas, Calif.

Taylor Farms de Mexico has "officially informed FDA that, as of Aug. 9, 2013, the company voluntarily suspended production and shipment of any salad mix, leafy green, or salad mix components from its operations in Mexico to the United States," according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"To date, only the salad mix has been implicated in the outbreak of cyclosporiasis in Iowa and Nebraska," the FDA said. The agency added it is still trying to determine whether the prepackaged salad mix was the source of infections in the other states.

States that now have recorded cases of cyclospora infection include Texas (250), Iowa (155), Nebraska (86), Florida (31), Wisconsin (16), Illinois (11), Arkansas (10), New York City (7), Georgia (5), Missouri (5), Kansas (4), Louisiana (3), New Jersey (3), Connecticut (2), Minnesota (2), New York (2), Ohio (2), Virginia (2), California (1), New Hampshire (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1) and Wyoming (1).

Meanwhile, U.S. health officials said the overall investigation continues.

Prior outbreaks of cyclospora infection have typically been caused by tainted produce, the CDC noted.

One expert said recently that while cyclospora can make people very ill, it is not usually life-threatening.

"On the infectious disease scale, this ranks well below the more notorious and dangerous ailments like E. coli and salmonella," said Dr. Lewis Marshall Jr., chairman of the outpatient services at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in New York City.

"It is unlikely to be fatal, but certainly can make one's life miserable," he added. "Symptoms include crampy abdominal pain, watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, bloating, nausea, fatigue, fever, headache and body aches."

Cases of cyclosporiasis are caused by a single-celled parasite and cannot be spread from person to person. The parasite has to be ingested via contaminated water or foods such as fruit and vegetables, according to Dr. Monica Parise, chief of the parasitic diseases branch at the CDC.

"It can be pretty miserable, because it can give diarrhea that can last for days," Parise said.

It takes about a week for people who are infected to become sick.

Marshall said there may be more cases of cyclospora infection out there than people realize. It is possible "that most occurrences go unreported, as many people wouldn't recognize the symptoms as any different than a common stomach bug," he said.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, has urged people who have suffered from diarrhea for longer than a couple of days to be tested for cyclospora.

Marshall agreed.

"If not treated, symptoms can last from a few days to a month or longer, go away and then return later," Marshall said. "Cyclospora can be treated with an antibiotic combination of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole [Bactrim]."

The best option, however, is to avoid the bug altogether.

"The safest way to protect oneself and one's family is to always rinse fresh produce under water, and even put vegetables in a cold water bath ahead of time to properly clean them," Marshall advised.

One expert stressed that the wash-your-produce rule includes prepackaged salads.

"Wash all your fruits and salads before ingesting," said Dr. Salvatore Pardo, vice chairman of the emergency department at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. "My hunch is the public does not do this to 'prepackaged' salad, which is normally purchased for convenience and dumped into the bowl since it tends to be free from particles -- dirt, sand, critters -- one would normally find in locally picked ingredients."

More information

For more information on cyclospora, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Aug. 21, 2013, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website; Aug. 12, 2013, U.S. Food and Drug Administration website; Monica Parise, M.D., chief, parasitic diseases branch, CDC; Thomas Frieden, M.D., director, CDC; Salvatore Pardo, M.D., vice chairman, Emergency Department, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Lewis Marshall Jr., M.D., chairman, department of outpatient services, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, New York City

 
Today's Interactive Tools

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.