It's been a while since I blogged about a foodborne illness outbreak. The CDC says that 327 cases of infection with Cyclospora cayetanensis have been reported around the country since late June. Apparently, there's no way to know for sure if all the cases are related.
Like so many other types of food poisoning, cyclosporiasis comes from ingesting food or water contaminated with infected fecal matter. It takes a while for Cyclospora cayetanensis to become infectious after it has been passed from the body. In other words, cleanliness can help prevent the spread of this parasite.
The signs and symptoms of cyclosporiasis come on about a week after infection and are very similar to other intestinal infections:
- watery diarrhea
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- stomach cramps or pain
- increased gas
Patients can also experience flu like symptoms or no symptoms at all. It's not easy to diagnose cyclosporiasis. You'll have to see a doctor. If it is cyclosporiasis, the only effective treatment that has been identified is to take antibiotics.
Officials haven't finished their investigation, but the working theory seems to be that the outbreak is related to a salad mix.