A mystery stomach bug that has sickened hundreds of people across nearly a dozen states has stumped the Centers For Disease Control, and, as of now, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Georgia have joined the list of places with Cyclospora outbreaks.
In Texas, 75 people have fallen ill due to the stomach bug, and public health officials believe that the Cyclospora outbreak is not spread via person-to-person contact. Food-borne transmission is being eyed as the culprit in the spate of illnesses, and severe diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and fatigue are all markers of exposure to the infection.
The CDC has been working with the Food Drug Administration to find out more about the stomach bug that is sickening people with no discernible common thread thus far, and the FDA reports:
“According to reports from the CDC, several state health departments have reported Cyclospora infections. As of July 22, 2013, CDC has been notified of more than 250 cases of Cyclospora infection in residents of multiple states, including Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin Georgia and Connecticut. Illinois and Kansas have also notified CDC of one case each that may have been acquired out of state. It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak.”
Since July 22, the number sickened by the stomach bug has risen to 283 officially, which doesn’t account for people who fell ill outside the scope of the probe, or possibly believed that they had run of the mill food poisoning due to the common symptoms associated with Cyclospora infections.
In Texas, where dozens have contracted the mystery stomach bug, public health officials are surprised to see such a large number affected. Dr. Sandra Parker, medical director for the Tarrant County Public Health Department, told a local news source:
“Typically, we only see a few cases of cyclosporiasis every year. This is something different for us in this amount of cases. We’ve never seen it clustered like this… In the past, outbreaks have been associated with eating fresh produce that have been contaminated by the organism. But as of yet, we haven’t been able to identify that source.”
While the source of the stomach bug has yet to be fully explained, Parker also says the infection can be treated with antibiotics. Untreated, symptoms can last for nearly two months.