UPDATED: Vegetables suspected as cause of cyclospora outbreak - The Packer

UPDATED: Vegetables suspected as cause of cyclospora outbreak

07/15/2013 04:42:00 PM
Coral Beach

(UPDATED COVERAGE July 16) Investigators in Iowa are ready for federal agencies to pick up the ball in the multi-state cyclospora parasite-related outbreak saying they have eliminated Iowa-grown produce as the source.

Courtesy CDCMicroscopic cyclospora parasites have sickened more than 100 people in at least two states.“We don’t believe it was an Iowa product because the cases are spread across the state and none of our (produce) farmers have that kind of distribution network,” said Steven Mandernach, bureau chief for food and consumer safety at Iowa’s Department of Inspections and Appeals.

As of July 16, Iowa’s Department of Health reported 81 confirmed cases — up 10 from the day before. In Nebraska, the case count was at 53 on July 16. Public health officials in both states believe fresh vegetables, not fruit, is the source.

An update from Dr. Joseph Acierno, Nebraska’s chief medical officer and director of public health, echoed comments from Iowa officials, saying that patient interviews, illness onset dates and the widespread nature of the outbreak suggest locally grown produce is not part of this outbreak.

“Interviews also show people’s symptoms started no later than the end of June, which suggests the contaminated food source may have worked its way through the system since fresh produce has a limited shelf life,” Acierno said in his update.

Iowa’s Mandernach said he and other Iowa officials have given all of their traceback investigation information to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which the state has been working with since the outbreak was discovered in late June.

“We told them yesterday afternoon in our call that we think it’s time to transition the investigation to the FDA and CDC and that we would like that to happen by mid-week.”

CDC Communications Center, AtlantaOn July 15, CDC spokeswoman Sharon Hoskins said federal officials are assisting but that “Iowa and Nebraska are leading the investigation.”

Other states involved

Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, Iowa’s head epidemiologist and medical director of the state’s Health Department said at least two other states are investigating outbreaks caused by the rare cyclospora parasite, which is more common in other parts of the world than in the U.S.

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