The Iowa Department of Public Health, CDC and local public health agencies are investigating an outbreak of an intestinal illness caused by Cyclospora (a rare parasite). As of today, July 12, 45 cases of Cyclospora infections have been reported to IDPH; almost all have been identified through testing at the State Hygienic Lab (SHL).
Cyclosporiasis illness occurs when an individual consumes food or water contaminated with the parasite. Fresh fruits and vegetables are typically associated with Cyclospora outbreaks.
While the source of this outbreak has not been determined, the investigation, which includes epidemiological interviews with those who have been ill, indicates fresh vegetables, not fruit, are implicated as a likely source.
Most people’s illness began in mid to late June and at least one person has 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.
Additional cases have been identified in Nebraska and other Midwestern states. The infection total in the two states is more than double the 35 reported earlier this week. Other Midwestern states may have cases, but so far Iowa and Nebraska are the only two reporting them, according to earlier reports. IDPH is coordinating the investigation with public health officials in those states. Washing fresh produce is recommended; however, it can be very difficult to wash Cyclospora off all types of produce.
Cyclosporiasis causes a watery diarrhea that lasts an average of 57 days if untreated. Other symptoms include:
- Fatigue (severe tiredness)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Increased gas
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle aches
- Low-grade fever