Cyclospora infections are on the rise. Georgia and Florida are two of seventeen states reporting infections.
Cyclospora is a parasite spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Infection can also be passed from person to person by exposure to contaminated feces, but infection risk this way is less likely.
As of August 8, 2013, the CDC reports there are 514 known cases. 30 required hospitalization. Iowa, Texas, and Nebraska have been hit hardest with the highest number of reported cases. Other states reporting infections include Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
In Nebraska and Iowa, infections have been traced to a tainted pre- packaged salad mix from a California-based company, Taylor Farms de Mexico, served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Infection sources from previous outbreaks have been found in contaminated fresh produce.
The incubation period -- the time between infection and onset of symptoms -- is about a week. Symptoms are very unpleasant: watery diarrhea; frequent, sometimes explosive bowel movements; gas, bloating, and abdominal cramps; nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss. Some sufferers have flu- like symptoms: headache, body aches, and fever.
This miserable mix of uncomfortable symptoms can last from a few days, to a month or more.
In some cases, infection is self-limited. Symptoms totally resolve without any specific therapy. In other cases, if not treated, symptoms can initially seem to go away, but then come back.
The CDC says cyclospora infection can be treated with a 7 to 10 day course of sulfa-based antibiotic, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, It’s sold under brand names Bactrim, Septra and Cotrim).
See a doctor immediately if you think you've been infected.