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Stomach Bug Outbreak Grows, Bagged Salad Implicated

Health officials in Iowa, Nebraska point to salad mix as culprit, but CDC has not confirmed a source
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The ongoing outbreak of stomach illness linked to the cyclospora parasite has now spread to 15 states and New York City, with 378 cases reported, according to the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report issued Wednesday.

The source or sources of the nationwide outbreak has not yet been located, although health officials at two of the hardest-hit states, Iowa and Nebraska, say they have traced local outbreaks to an as-yet-unnamed salad mix.

In a posting on its website, the CDC said that it "will continue to work with federal, state, and local partners in the investigation to determine whether this conclusion applies to the increase in cases of cyclosporiasis in other states. It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak."

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

While no one has died from cyclosporiasis, "at least 21 persons reportedly have been hospitalized in three states," the CDC said. Most people got sick between mid-June through early July.

Cases have now been reported from Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York City, New York State, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

Cases of cyclosporiasis, which is caused by a single-celled parasite and can trigger diarrhea and stomach cramps, have been mounting through the month of July, said Dr. Monica Parise, chief of the parasitic diseases branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The cyclospora parasite cannot be spread from person to person; it has to be ingested via contaminated water or foods such as fruit and vegetables.

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

Cyclospora is a tiny parasite but is devastatingly effective, added Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an attending physician in the division of infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

"You can ingest as few as 10 of these little critters and get sick," Hirsch said.

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