Parasite-infested greens have affected hundreds of consumers in multiple states, but so far the source of the outbreak remains a mystery.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have received notice of 610 cases of Cyclosporiasis from 22 state health departments. The affected states include Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The first cases were reported in the first two weeks of June but by August 10, no new cases were being reported. Out of the 610 cases, 45 required hospitalization but no deaths have been reported.
Cyclospora infections or cyclosporiasis is caused by the ingestion of the pathogen Cyclospora cayetanensis, which is transmitted in human feces, through contaminated water, fruits and vegetables. The infection causes watery diarrhea and it is often acquired by adult foreigners who go to areas where the pathogen is endemic, and bringing it home with them. This is why cyclosporiasis is often called “traveler’s diarrhea.”
There is an ongoing effort to find the origins of the infection, and it seems indicated that not all the cases are directly linked and may not have come from the same source. An early traceback by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified the salad mix from Mexico-based Taylor Farms de Mexico as the source of the parasite in two states, but subsequent investigation of the producer’s facilities showed no signs of contamination. Taylor Farms had voluntarily ceased operations pending the outcome of the investigation but has now resumed. In the meantime, efforts continue to find the true source of the contamination.