The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in collaboration with local public health agencies across Missouri is investigating cases of cyclosporiasis that appear to be linked to eating McDonald’s salads. A total of seven cases from Missouri report having eaten at McDonald’s restaurants prior to becoming ill.  Additional cases in Missouri and other states continue to be reported and investigated.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

Persons can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with feces (stool) that contains the cyclosporiasis parasite. Cyclospora is not spread directly from one person to another. In the U.S., foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce. Cases in the U.S. have also occurred in people who traveled to parts of the world where the parasite is found.

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Symptoms of cyclosporiasis usually begin about one week after exposure, although some people who are infected will not develop symptoms. The infection usually is not life threatening. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis may include the following: Watery diarrhea (most common), loss of appetite and weight,   cramping, bloating, and/or increased gas, nausea (vomiting is less common), fatigue and low-grade fever.

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Cyclospora infection can be treated with specific antibiotics. If not treated, symptoms can persist from several weeks to a month or more. Contact your healthcare provider if you have developed these symptoms, and let him or her know you have eaten a salad at McDonald’s.