By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
In a follow-up on our report yesterday on the Cyclospora situation being reported in several places in the United States, Massachusetts state health officials report an update on the increase in cases of the parasitic infection in the Commonwealth.
Since May 1, 2019, there have been more than 100 reports of Cyclospora infection cases in the state, when, over the past three years, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has received between 18 and 33 reported cases.
Most cases this year have occurred in greater Boston, but infections have been reported in residents across the state.
Other states have also reported increases in the number of cyclosporiasis cases; the cause of the outbreak is not yet known.
Cyclosporiasis is a gastrointestinal illness caused by a microscopic parasite. People can become infected by consuming contaminated food or water. Outbreaks in the United States have been linked to contaminated fresh produce.
“Individuals usually become symptomatic approximately one week after eating contaminated food,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “Symptoms typically include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal cramping, nausea, and prolonged fatigue. Immunocompromised people may have more prolonged symptoms. Many infections will resolve on their own, but people with symptoms should seek medical care as the infection is best treated with an antibiotic prescribed by a healthcare provider. “
“This illness is not spread person-to-person like many other food-borne diseases, like salmonella or E.coli,” said Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director. “When a specific contaminated food item is identified, prevention involves removing that product from distribution. In the absence of a specific food item linked to the outbreak, prevention, in this case, means using safe food handling practices. ”
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To best prevent all foodborne illnesses, consumers and retailers should always follow safe fruit and vegetable handling recommendations:
Wash: Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and the preparation of fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked.
Prepare: Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cutaway any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating. Cooking produce will eliminate the risk of Cyclospora and other foodborne infections.
Store: Refrigerate cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible, or within two hours. Store fruits and vegetables away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
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