Baton Rouge, La. - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has confirmed a third case of cyclospora in Louisiana, this one in Caddo Parish. Two other cases have been reported in Terrebonne and Bienville Parishes.
A spokesman for DHH says the latest person diagnosed with the stomach illness is believed to have eaten produce from Texas. This is similar to a complaint for one of the other two people inflicted here in Louisiana, who reported eating lettuce from Texas.
The third person from Louisiana did not report eating lettuce or salad. The onset of symptoms in all of the cases was early July, about the time of the peak of the national outbreak. All three cases were considered mild and did not require hospitalization.
DHH has been in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to share information about the cases, as the federal government is investigating a cyclospora outbreak. Nationwide, there have been 397 confirmed cases in 16 states.
"The best prevention is always to handle and prepare food in a manner that minimizes the presence of harmful germs," said Dr. Raoult Ratard, State Epidemiologist for DHH. "This includes washing fruits and vegetables before eating them. We also encourage people to wash their hands frequently throughout the day."
Cyclosporiasis is a rare microscopic parasite, Cyclospora cayetanesis, which causes a lengthy gastrointestinal illness. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. Those with the illness may have flu-like symptoms, severe diarrhea and nausea.
It typically takes around a week for someone who is infected with cyclospora to become ill. In addition to watery diarrhea, other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps or pain, bloating, increased gas and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may also be present.
People who believe they have the illness should see their doctors immediately for treatment.
Fresh vegetables and fruit are usually associated with cyclospora outbreaks. People become sick when they consume food contaminated with the parasite. Washing fruits and vegetables before eating them is always recommended to prevent the spread of disease.