Health department investigates food-borne illness outbreak

 
Submitted by Lake County Health Department
Updated 8/9/2018 1:50 PM
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The Lake County Health Department is working with local, state and federal public health officials to investigate an increase in cyclosporiasis (Cyclospora infection) affecting residents of multiple counties and states.

"Since May, the health department has investigated 43 cases of Cyclospora infection among Lake County residents. This is more than 14 times higher than the number of cases reported in 2017," said Dr. Sana Ahmed, medical epidemiologist with the Lake County Health Department.

"We urge Lake County residents who are experiencing symptoms to seek testing from a health care provider."

Cyclospora infection may occur when a person consumes food or water contaminated with the Cyclospora parasite. Symptoms typically begin one to two weeks after exposure and can be treated with specific antibiotics. If left untreated, symptoms can last weeks to months. Cyclospora infection is unlikely to be transmitted from person to person.

The most common symptom of Cyclospora infection is watery diarrhea. Other symptoms can include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, muscle aches, and low-grade fever.

As of July 31, the Illinois Department of Public Health has reported 620 cases of Cyclospora infection in Illinois.

Of these, 228 people have reported eating salads from McDonald's restaurants and 160 attended a private event held at the Evanston Golf Club on July 3.

Some of the 43 Cyclospora cases reported in Lake County have been linked to McDonald's or the Evanston Golf Club event, a few have been linked to international travel, and the remaining cases do not have an apparent link.

On July 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a public health alert for a recall of several pre-made salad and wrap products due to potential Cyclospora contamination.

The products were distributed to Walgreens, Trader Joe's, Kroger, and other locations nationwide by Caito Foods LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana.

People who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them, but to return or discard them. Detailed information on affected products is available on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following safe fruit and vegetable handling guidelines:

• Wash: Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops 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. Fruits and vegetables that are labeled "prewashed" do not need to be washed again at home. Scrub firm fruits and vegetables such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating.

• 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.

Learn more about Cyclospora infection and the current outbreak on the IDPH at dph.illinois.gov and CDC at www.cdc.gov.

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