On Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies announced in an outbreak update that the epidemiologic investigation into a cyclospora outbreak had led to the conclusion that a prepackaged salad mix was the source of the outbreak. According to the “Iowa Cyclospora Outbreak 2013”, released Tuesday, 143 cases of cyclospora infection have been reported to IDPH. Also on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an update to its “Investigation of an Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis in the United States,” stating that at least 21 people had been hospitalized and a total of 372 cases nationwide had been identified.
According to IDPH, a food trace-back investigation revealed that the prepackaged salad mix containing iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots and cabbage was distributed to both restaurants and supermarkets in multiple states. The brand of salad mix was not disclosed, nor were the names of grocery store chains or restaurants that sold the salad mix.
“By keeping these companies’ names secret, public health agencies may be trying to protect businesses, but they are ultimately doing the public a disservice by quashing important data that could otherwise help consumers make informed decisions about what to eat and where to shop,” said attorney William Marler.
“The truth will come out. Victims will start talking about where they shop and which restaurants they eat ate,” Marler added. “Victims shouldn’t have to figure this out on their own, though. Public health agencies need to release this information; they are in the business of protecting public health—not business health.”
Cyclospora is a parasite rarely found in the U.S. It causes intestinal illness in persons who ingest the parasite through consuming contaminated food or water. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis, the illness caused by the ingestion of cyclospora oocysts, include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue. Dehydration is a major concern for those with cyclospora infection.
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