CDC Reports Parasite In Del Monte Vegetable Sickens More Than 200 People


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that as of July 5, an outbreak of cyclosporiasis has sickened 212 people in four states since May.

Patients reported feeling ill from May 31 but CDC believed they might have been infected since May 14. The number of illnesses continued to be reported until June 13. Infected individuals range in age from 13 to 79 years old, with the median age of 47. Seven people who reported feeling ill have already been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported so far.

Parasite In Del Monte Vegetable Trays

The July 5 announcement from CDC is linked to Del Monte vegetable trays containing fresh broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks, carrots, and dill dip. The contaminated products have already been removed from stores since June 15. The products in question were sold at Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond's, Sentry, Potash, Meehan's, Country Market, FoodMax Supermarket, and Peapod stores in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.

The Food and Drug and Administration Board, however, could not identify which of the ingredients acted as host to the parasite. The board, therefore, considered all vegetables as possibly contaminated.

The Del Monte Vegetable Trays have a "Best If Enjoyed By" date of June 17.

Cyclospora Outbreak

Outbreaks of cyclosporiasis in the United States have been linked to different types of imported fresh produce.

CDC said the infection is not life-threatening. The symptoms may include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. In some cases, there could also be vomiting and low-grade fever.

Cyclospora is unlikely to be passed directly from person to person. Instead, it is spread when people eat or drink products that were contaminated with feces. It usually takes about one to two weeks before symptoms become apparent.

Cyclospora In Texas

Meanwhile, in a separate case, Texas health officials are currently investigating 56 cases of illnesses due to the parasite Cyclospora since the beginning of May. All local health providers are being advised to report patients diagnosed with the parasite so officials can identify the source of the outbreak.

The Texas Department of State Health Services noted that past Cyclospora outbreaks were linked to imported fresh produce, including mixed salad mix, raspberries, basil, snow peas, and mesclun greens. In Texas, in particular, there had been cases of multiple outbreaks linked to cilantro.

Proper Hygiene To Prevent Outbreaks

Health officials have highlighted the importance of washing hands with soap and water before and after preparing food. It is also important to wash the cutting boards, utensils used, and countertops with soap and hot water before and after cutting fruits and vegetables, and especially when preparing raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

Refrigerate peeled and unconsumed fresh produce at least two hours after preparation. Store them away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood. 

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