July 31, 2013

Cyclospora outbreak tied to bagged salad mix

An outbreak of cyclospora contamination affecting 16 states has been tied to a bagged salad mix. State health department inspectors in Iowa and Nebraska detected the link. Other investigators from the FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control are also assisting in the probe.

States hit hardest by the outbreak are Iowa (143 confirmed cases), Texas (101) and Nebraska (76). A total of 372 cases have been reported as of July 29.

Steven Mandernach, chief of the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, said epidemiological data and food history interviews linked 80 percent of the illnesses to a specific mix of iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots and red cabbage. That mix and the company that produced it have not been identified, but Nebraska officials believe it came through national distribution channels.

The contamination is caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis, which can lead to an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis. Symptoms of the disease include diarrhea, loss of appetite, cramping, nausea and fatigue. The disease is usually not life threatening.

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