Cyclospora Lettuce Infection Traced To Mexico

The Cyclospora lettuce infection has been traced to Mexico.

The recent outbreak of Cyclospora which has led to illness in more than 400 people in 16 US states has been traced below the border. The FDA discovered the source of the bagged lettuce parasite and has doubled up its efforts to check facilities bagging leafy green vegetation coming from Mexico.

Olive Garden and Red Lobster had suffered a rash of outbreaks among customers in Iowa and Nebraska, and then Texas, before hitting more US states with the mysterious parasite infection. The FDA stated today that it had traced the outbreak of Cyclospora to bags of lettuce packaged by Taylor Farms of Mexico, a supplier of the vegetable used by Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

The statement from the FDA added, “As a result of the current investigation FDA is increasing its surveillance efforts on green leafy products exported to the US from Mexico.”

Cyclospora is a one-celled parasite known to originate from the tropics and subtropics, which infects the body through contaminated food and water. Symptoms of Cyclospora infection include vomiting, watery anal discharge, and body aches. The most common carrier of the parasite is fresh produce.

According to a report from the Associated Press:

“The source of this outbreak has proved particularly hard to trace. Doctors have to test specifically for [Cyclospora] and many don’t because it is relatively rare. The parasite is so tiny that it’s often difficult to confirm that a person has the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tests often have to be repeated with fresh samples.”

As a result of the FDA’s findings, it will be working with Taylor Farms of Mexico to conduct environmental assessment of facilities where lettuce is being bagged and hopefully eliminate the chances of a repeat Cyclospora infection. The last known inspection was in 2011 and no notable issues had been detected at the time.

What do you think of the recent outbreak of Cyclospora being traced to Mexico?