Parasite Outbreak Affecting Michigan? Symptoms and How To Avoid It
The next time you feel you have a stomach bug, you may want to handle it with a bit more care. It could be a parasite called Cyclospora that can affect you for a month or even longer.
According to the CDC and FDA, the parasite can be reported year-round, but there's a noticeable increase in cases during the spring and summer months. The parasite is contracted by consuming food or water that is contaminated with feces. Cyclospora can be found in common foods including fresh produce such as basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries, and snow peas. In Alabama and Georgia raw broccoli is connected to 20 cases.
While there is no specific food to keep an eye out for in Michigan, it's still important to prevent contracting the parasite ahead of time.
The CDC recommends consumers and retailers follow basic safe fruit and vegetable handling procedures: Washing hands, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water, especially when handling raw meat, poultry and seafood. Likewise, fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. Lastly, when storing fruits and vegetables, ensure they are refrigerated within 2 hours after cut, peeled or cooked and store them separately from raw meat, poultry and seafood.
The symptoms of Cyclospora are quite unpleasant, though some can go without any symptoms. Those that do will have a rough time within about a week of contracting the parasite. The clearest sign is watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements.
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- stomach cramps/pain
- increased gas
- body aches
- other flu-like symptoms
As mentioned, these symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to longer than a month. It's important to see your healthcare provider if you feel you may have contracted the parasite so that they can properly diagnose you and provide the proper antibiotics.
The parasite doesn't spread from person to person and Michigan only has between 1 and 10 cases. Still, it's prevalent in every Midwest state with Ohio and Illinois having between 11 and 30 cases. Taking the proper preventative measures will help to keep these numbers low.