The Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, released its latest update on the status of their cyclospora outbreak investigation on Aug. 5. According to the latest report 425 cases of cyclospora infections have been reported in 16 states and one city, including Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and New York City. Illinois, Missouri, New York and Louisiana are reporting one case each that was likely acquired out of state, with Kansas reporting two cases that were possibly acquired out of state.
According to the report, Iowa has the most reported cyclospora infections with 146 cases, followed by Texas with 113 cases and Nebraska with 81 cases.
Cyclospora, a single-celled parasite, causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis, marked by symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever and other flu-like symptoms.
Cyclospora infections tend to occur in people living in or traveling to the tropics and subtropic regions, where the parasite is endemic. It is usually spread when people ingest food or water contaminated with feces.
As a result of the outbreak, 24 people have been reportedly hospitalized in five states.
The CDC continues to cooperate with FDA and public health officials across multiple states to aid in the investigation of the source of the outbreak in those states as well.
Officials in Nebraska and Iowa pointed to prepackaged mixed bagged salad as the source of the outbreak on July 30.
On August 3, the FDA announced it discovered the source of the bagged salad mix linked to the infections in Iowa and Nebraska. The mixed salad was provided by Taylor Farms de Mexico, a Mexican branch of Taylor Farms, a produce company based out of Salinas, Calif. The restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska where the bagged salad mix was served include Olive Garden and Red Lobster -- owned by parent company Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI).
The FDA, CDC and local agencies are investigating the processing facility in Mexico to find the cause of the outbreak and implement preventative measures to prevent an outbreak from reoccurring. According to a press release by Taylor Farms, they are fully cooperating with the investigation.
“We can confirm statements by the Midwest health officials that product supplied during the month of June is no longer in the supply chain and bagged salad is safe to eat,” Taylor Farms said in a press release.
Other states have not ruled whether or not the bagged salad is the source of their cyclospora outbreaks. However, a Texas woman is suing Darden Restaurants, after allegedly contracting the parasite after eating at her local Olive Garden.
The CDC defines outbreak cases as “laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora [infections] in [people] who became ill in June or July, 2013, and had no history of travel outside of the United States or Canada during the 14 days prior to onset of illness.”
The CDC continues to post updates on their website about their investigation and confirmed cases. Out of all of the cases, 41 have been confirmed in CDC laboratories.
The CDC and FDA advise the practice safe food handling, including the thorough washing of produce and hands to reduce the chance of a cyclospora infection.