Bagged salad is being eyed as the potential culprit in a nagging cyclospora stomach bug that has affected hundreds of individuals across multiple states, says CBS news on July 30.
Although the bug has hit individuals across 16 states, the largest concentration of cases – close to 150 – have been reported in Iowa. Although no FDA recall has yet to be issued, the Iowa Department of Public Health issued a statement implementing “prepackaged salad mix as the source of the outbreak.”
The statement says that 80 percent of the cases reported in Iowa were traced back to the same prepackaged mix, although officials did not name what particular brand was thought to be the cause. The salad mix was identified as containing “iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots and red cabbage.”
Individuals who became sick likely consumed the salad as far back as mid to late June. If left untreated, the statement says cyclospora infection may cause watery diarrhea that lasts an average of 57 days. Other symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, bloating and gas, cramping, nausea with vomiting and fever with muscle aches. Symptoms may leave and return over the course of days or weeks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, as of the end of July, 392 people have developed a cyclospora infection, known as cyclosporiasis. States reporting infections thus far include Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.
The FDA issued a statement saying they 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.
Clyospora is a one-celled, microscopic parasite that can cause intestinal infections. The infection is often treated with the antibiotic Co-trimoxazole.
The FDA said in their statement that “Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. Wash hands, utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food. Fresh produce should be thoroughly washed before it is eaten.”
Most bagged lettuce is “pre-washed” or carries such obtuse phrases like “triple-washed.” Even so, carefully rinsing lettuce prior to eating is recommended.