Cyclospora has been making hundreds of people sick all across the country.  But what is it?

Cyclospora is a single-celled parasite that can infect people who drink water or eat food contaminated with the parasite.

According to the Mayo Clinic, its transmission is still unclear since the parasite is not infectious until a lengthy period of time after it passes through the victim's body.

The parasite has been known to contaminate lettuce and similar produce.

What are the symptoms?

The Mayo Clinic says some victims of the infection show no symptoms, while others show symptoms within a couple days or weeks of consuming the infected food or water.

The symptoms include:

  • Loose diarrhea
  • Frequent and/or explosive bowel movements
  • Alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation
  • No appitite
  • Weight loss
  • General "gassy-ness" (i.e. burping, bloating, flatulence)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Aches and pains
  • Low-grade fever

One of the most important things to remember anytime you are dealing with diarrhea is to be well hydrated.  Stay hydrated to avoid additional symptoms.

Cyclospora infection outbreak

Over 400 people have been diagnosed with cyclospora infection, including at least two here in Louisiana.

One of those diagnosed here in Louisiana is in Bienville Parish.

The outbreak has affected people in 16 different states.

Early indications show the outbreak is being traced back to prepackaged salad.

Food safety advocates are voicing concern about the lack of information about the continuing outbreak.

Health officials in Nebraska and Iowa trace their cases to prepackaged salad.  However, no details on the company that packaged the salad or even where they were sold.

The cyclospora outbreak was first noted in late June in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Officials in Texas are still trying to figure out the source of the parasite infection outbreak.  There are some indications that the Nebraska and Iowa outbreaks may be related to those in North Texas.

Consumers are advised to wash all produce they purchase.