Outbreak brings infection control to forefront of the news

Bagged salads are believed to be the cause of a recent infectious outbreak.

Hospital infection control has become a hot top as the number of diseases of Cyclospora infection reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to increase. Multiple news outlets are reporting on the stomach bug that has swept the Midwest.

Cyclospora infection
According to WebMD, this infection is caused by single-celled parasites that are often found in tropical environments. When ingested, a person will experience symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort. So how do residents located in the Midwestern region of the United States contract Cyclospora?

Recent outbreak
In 1996 more than 1,000 people living in 20 different U.S. states were infected with Cyclospora because of fresh raspberries that came from Guatemala. However, this time the cause is believed to be a bagged salad mix, according to a Nebraska ABC affiliate. Although specific brand names have not been released, the combination is said to include iceberg and romaine lettuces, in addition to red cabbage and carrots.

Diagnosed cases
On June 28, the first two cases of Cyclospora were reported in Iowa. This event spurred an investigation by the CDC in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to find out if there were additional sufferers. As of July 31, 378 instances of the infection had been reported by 16 different health departments across the United States, including: Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio. However, there are a number of states outside of the Midwest that have seen issues, from New York to Texas.

Preventative measures
Since fresh produce seems to be a cause for concern when it comes to Cyclospora, the FDA recommends always washing products you purchase from the store to prevent infection. You may even want to use a paper towel to dry your fruits and vegetables in order to remove any remaining residue. It should be noted that chemicals found in soaps and detergents have failed at killing to infectious organism, so there's no need to use any on your foods.

Symptoms
You may be infected by Cyclospora if you are suffering from diarrhea that comes and goes, a mild fever and other flu-like symptoms. These can last over the course of several weeks in some cases. As a result, some people are hospitalized due to dehydration. Those who are concerned they have contracted the infection should go to the doctor or hospital.

Treatment
Health care professionals will have infection control supplies that should be able to rid the body of Cyclospora. In most instances the antibiotic Bactrim is used for successful treatment. Patients are required to take a seven- to 10-day course of the medicine until their symptoms go away.

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