Salad to blame for latest stomach bug illness, officials say

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Health officials say a pre-packaged salad mix is the source of a cyclospora outbreak that sickened more than 178 people in both Nebraska and Iowa.

As of now South Carolina has not had any reports of the cyclospora, but there are still precautions you may want to take to stay clear of the bug.

Cyclospora an infection caused by a tiny parasite instead of a virus.

"Its not the kind of thing where a kid goes to school and can catch it from someone else," Dr. Michael Kilby said.

Dr. Kilby heads up the division of infectious diseases at MUSC and says some people who catch cyclospora did so after traveling out of the country.

"People who go to South America or South East Asia can come back with diarrhea caused by this parasite," Dr. Kilby said.

Dr. Kilby says the illness is commonly linked to fresh fruit, veggies and herbs shipped from out of the U.S.

"When berries or lettuce, things that don't get cooked, are imported from other countries they may have been contaminated by people who are sick in the process of picking them or processing them," Dr. Kilby said.

Infections like cyclospora make it even more vital to always wash your produce well.

"You are never washing it too much to run it under some water," Dr. Kilby said.

Symptoms of cyclospora happen within several days of eating contaminated food and can include diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and fatigue.

While the illness might make you feel miserable,  Dr. Kilby says the good news is that it's easily treatable and in most cases will pass through after 2 to 3 days without any medication.

"The key thing is not to get dehydrated, and drink plenty of water if you loose your appetite," Dr. Kilby said.

Dr. Kilby says young babies, older people, and those with weakened immune systems might be at higher risk for prolonged illness and may need antibiotics to treat this bug.

Officials still don't know the culprit of another 100 cases of the illness in several other states.

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