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Del Monte Vegetables Infect Over 200 People With Intestinal Parasite

Jul 09, 2018 07:55 PM EDT
CDC gives an update on the cyclosporiasis outbreak that's been traced to Del Monte vegetable trays sold in stores.
(Photo : Engin Akyurt | Pixabay)

A parasite outbreak has swept through four states, leaving more than 200 people sick with cyclosporiasis from consuming contaminated Del Monte vegetables.

CDC Provides Outbreak Update

Over the past month or so, the intestinal infection has hit the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest count of confirmed infected individuals has reached 212 as of Thursday, July 5.

While there have been no deaths reported during the cyclosporiasis flare-up, the toll of infected individuals is quite high. Seven people have already been hospitalized.

The parasite doesn't target any specific group, with the infected ranging from ages 13 to 79 and 54 percent being female. FDA reports that the infection has been recorded in the following states: Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Parasite Traced To Del Monte Produce

Health officials have been able to determine that the source of the infections were pre-packaged Del Monte Fresh Produce vegetable trays. More specifically, the ones that contain broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and dill dip.

In Friday, June 15, the company recalled the 6 oz., 12 oz., and 28 oz. vegetable trays being sold with the identified produce. All the recalled trays were marked with an expiration date of June 17, 2018, so there is likely none left in the market by now.

About Cyclosporiasis

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection that's caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis, according to CDC. People get infected by consuming food or water that's been contaminated by the single-celled parasite.

The infection's most distinct symptom is watery diarrhea, but it could also be accompanied with loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Flu-like symptoms may also arise.

Symptoms begin about one week from consumption of the contaminated food or drink, which makes it tougher for health officials to identify its source.

"By the time cases are detected, the product is long gone," Michael T. Osterholm, a professor at the University of Minnesota and an expert on international food-borne diseases, explains to New York Times. "It's very hard to trace back."

Left untreated, cyclosporiasis could last anywhere from a few days to a whole month.

The last cyclosporiasis outbreak in the United States was in 2015. This previous flare-up saw 546 people were infected across 31 states. Texas also currently has 56 cyclospora cases.

Aside from steering clear of the specific products that's been identified as cyclosporiasis sources, CDC recommends the proper washing, preparation, and storage of fruits and vegetables.

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