Illinois foodborne illness outbreak linked to packaged salads

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – More than 20 cases of a foodborne intestinal illness caused by the microscopic Cyclospora parasite have been confirmed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

The health department said the approximate 23 cases “appear to be linked to a multi-state outbreak of cyclosporiasis” from store brand packaged garden salads from Aldi, Hy-Vee and Jewel-Osco.

IDPH said the stores are cooperating with all health officials.

The cases have been reported in multiple Illinois counties beginning in mid-May.

“Although a link has been made to Cyclospora in some Illinois cases, public health officials continue to investigate other sources,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “If you consumed store brand packaged garden salads since May and then developed watery diarrhea, please contact a health care provider about testing and treatment.”

People can become infected by the disease by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with feces that contain the parasite. It is not spread directly from person to person.

Symptoms usually begin about a week after exposure, but some infected people may not notice symptoms at all. Symptoms may include:

• Frequent bouts of watery diarrhea (the most common symptom)
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Cramping, bloating, and/or increased gas
• Nausea (vomiting is less common)
• Fatigue
• Low-grade fever

Cyclospora infection can be treated with specific antibiotics.  If not treated, the illness may last for a few days to a month or longer. 

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