Salad Suspected In Summer Outbreak

Cyclospora infections tied to salad mix in Iowa and Nebraska

(RxWiki News) The foodborne parasite Cyclospora has been causing infections across the US this summer, leaving authorities searching for a culprit.

Now health officials are reporting that, at least in Iowa and Nebraska, the infections seem to be tied to a bagged salad mix.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the parasite has caused 378 cases of cyclosporiasis, or infection with Cyclospora, across the US since late June. Whether or not all the cases are linked in a single outbreak is yet to be determined.

"Wash fresh fruits and veggies carefully."

CDC reported on Tuesday that investigations in both Iowa and Nebraska have pointed to a prepackaged salad mix as the source of the cyclosporiasis outbreaks in those states. Iowa has reported 143 cases to date and Nebraska has reported 78 cases.

In a statement from the Iowa Department of Public Health, Steven Mandernach, Chief of the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, said, “The evidence points to a salad mix containing iceberg and romaine lettuce, as well as carrots and red cabbage as the source of the outbreak reported in Iowa and Nebraska.”

Mandernach added, “Iowans should continue eating salads as the implicated prepackaged mix is no longer in the state’s food supply chain."

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) echoed similar sentiments Tuesday in a statement.

"Nebraska public health officials believe the bulk of the contaminated salad mix already worked its way through the system due to limited shelf life," reported the Nebraska DHHS.

According to the Nebraska DHHS, symptoms of cyclosporiasis include fatigue, bloating, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, vomiting, muscle aches, fever and diarrhea that can last from weeks to months. The department recommended that people experiencing symptoms contact a doctor.

The Nebraska DHHS also noted that fresh fruits and vegetables are typically associated with outbreaks of Cyclospora. "Washing fruits and vegetables is always recommended but it can be difficult to wash Cyclospora off all types of produce," reported the Nebraska DHHS. 

CDC reported that, though the salad mix seems to be the source of cyclosporiasis in Iowa and Nebraska, the same conclusions have not been determined in other areas that have seen infections this summer. Fourteen other state health departments have reported cases — Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York City, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.

"CDC will continue to work with federal, state, and local partners in the investigation to determine whether this conclusion applies to the increase in cases of cyclosporiasis in other states," CDC reported. 

Review Date: 
July 31, 2013