UPDATE: Bagged Salad Eyed as Source of Cyclospora Outbreak

By: CBS News Email
By: CBS News Email
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UPDATE: Tue 4:31 PM, Jul 30, 2013

(CBS News) A bagged salad mix is being investigated as a source of the cyclospora stomach bug outbreak that has caused hundreds of cases of diarrhea.

As of July 29, 372 people have developed a cyclospora infection, or cyclosporiasis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday. Cases have been found in at least 16 states: Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.

The most cases -- 143 -- have been reported in Iowa. An investigation by the Iowa Department of Public Health has implicated a prepackaged salad mix as the source of the state's outbreak. Investigators determined that about 80 percent of the cases had been exposed to this same type of prepackaged salad mix.

Health officials have not revealed the brand or manufacturer of the mix, but have said it contains iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots and red cabbage. The salad mix is no longer in Iowa's food supply chain, the health department said.

Federal health officials have yet to conclude this bagged salad is responsible for the nationwide outbreak, “FDA will continue to work with its federal, state and local partners in the investigation to determine whether this conclusion applies to the increased number of cases of cyclosporiasis in other states," the agency said in a statement. "The goal will be to combine information collected from other affected states with that provided by the state health authorities in Iowa to identify a specific food item linked to the illnesses."

The FDA added it is following other leads as well. A seven-person team at the agency's headquarters is working to solve the outbreak.

"This is labor intensive and painstaking work, requiring the collection, review and analysis of hundreds and at times thousands of invoices and shipping documents," the FDA said.

Cyclosporiasis is caused by the parasite, cyclospora, found in contaminated food or drinking water.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, previously told CBS This Morning Thursday that cyclospora is a "tenacious critter because it can produce a prolonged, watery, very uncomfortable diarrhea" in addition to other symptoms like cramping, bloating, gas, nausea and fatigue.

Iowa health officials said the diarrhea can last up to 57 days.

The Food and Drug Administration urges people to practice safe food handling and preparation, including washing hands, utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling foods.

ORIGINAL STORY: Wed 3:29 PM, Jul 24, 2013

(CBS News) WASHINGTON More than 250 people in at least seven states have come down with a stomach bug that could be linked to foodborne illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the cyclospora infection causing diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms has been reported in Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia and Connecticut. The CDC said 10 people have been hospitalized and most of the reported illnesses occurred from mid-June to early July.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the cyclospora infections, which are most often found in tropical or subtropical countries and have been linked to imported fresh produce in the past.

The illness is usually spread when people ingest foods or water contaminated with feces. The agency said it isn't yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are linked.

Sandy Austin, Wisconsin Rapids Copps Food Center assistant store manager and store director said in their store, if the country isn't listed on the product, they display it on tags in the produce sections.

"They (fruits and vegetables) come from other countries," Austin said. "They come from fields. The best thing is is to wash them."

In Wisconsin, there have been four cases reported in the last month, which surprises Nancy Eggleston, of the Wood County Health Department.

"We have had four Wisconsin residents who have tested positive for it, which is unusual because between 2008 and 2012 there were five total cases," Eggleston said. "We've had four just in the last month and a half."

The number of reported illnesses expanded from more than 200 to more than 250 on Tuesday, according to the CDC. At press time more than 275 people had taken ill. The CDC added Georgia, Connecticut and New Jersey to the list of affected states.

The agency said it is investigating additional illnesses and the number of those sickened could grow.

Hannah Anderson contributed to this report.

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