The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided an update on the investigation into the intestinal infection cyclosporiasis, revealing that the number of people affected has risen to 581 across 31 states, including Massachusetts. Cyclospora cayetanensis, a parasite associated with contaminated fresh produce, is the cause of these intestinal infections, typically spread through the consumption of contaminated food or water.
Symptoms of cyclosporiasis include frequent bowel movements, stomach cramps, increased gas, nausea, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, headache, body aches, and fever. The recent CDC update indicates that out of the reported cases, 55 individuals required hospitalization. This marks an increase from the previous update on June 22, which recorded 371 cases.
While the specific source of the outbreak has yet to be identified, state and local health officials, in collaboration with the CDC, are conducting interviews with affected individuals to determine the foods consumed prior to their illness. Massachusetts has reported between 1 and 10 cases as part of this outbreak.
No deaths have been linked to these illnesses. However, the FDA is separately investigating two cyclospora outbreaks, which have caused illness in at least 150 people. Although cyclosporiasis cases are reported throughout the year, there is often an increase during the spring and summer months. Notably, the rise in cases began earlier this year, with April witnessing a spike, which may indicate a shift in the seasonality of cyclosporiasis in the United States.
Fresh produce, including basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries, and snow peas, has been associated with previous cyclosporiasis outbreaks. In a recent incident, raw imported broccoli was linked to an outbreak that affected 20 individuals in Georgia and Alabama. However, the source of the remaining cases in the US has yet to be determined, and broccoli does not appear to be the cause.
Health officials are urging individuals who experience symptoms to disclose their food consumption in the 14 days prior to illness. By identifying a common food source, health advisories can be issued if the contaminated product is still available for purchase. Cyclosporiasis can last several weeks to a month or more, and treatment typically involves antibiotics. Healthcare providers are advised to report cases to local health departments for monitoring and appropriate action.