As of July 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a total of 286 people in 15 states have been infected with a parasite called Cyclospora, an increase of 120 people in the last week alone.
So far, there have been 11 hospitalizations but no deaths associated with this outbreak. The parasite has been linked to salads from McDonald’s.
So what is this parasite, and why are the numbers still increasing?
What is Cyclospora?
Cyclospora is a parasite found in contaminated food or water — which in the U.S. can mean fresh produce — and causes a short-term illness known as Cyclosporiasis.
The parasite isn’t typically transmitted from one person to another, but rather, makes people sick after it is ingested.
What are the signs of an infection?
Once someone ingests food or water contaminated with Cyclospora, symptoms of the infection may not begin until about a week later, sometimes even up to two weeks.
The symptoms include copious, sometimes explosive, watery diarrhea, low-grade fever, cramping or bloating with increased gas, nausea, and tiredness. These symptoms can last anywhere from one to several weeks. Without treatment, symptoms can come and go for several months.