A Cyclospora outbreak linked to bagged salad has sickened more than 500 people in the U.S. But as some seek medical care for this parasitic infection that can last for months if untreated they are being told, incorrectly, that there isn’t a way to test for it or that a test is not needed.
Some healthcare providers may be sidestepping the test out of concern that labs are overwhelmed with COVID-19 tests. But with cases of food poisoning, it’s important to know which kind and there is a way to find out.
Cyclosporiasis, the infection caused by the Cyclospora parasite, can be detected using a stool sample test that is separate from the standard screening for foodborne pathogens. If the test is positive, it needs to be reported to state and local health officials which can be done by the patient or the doctor. The reason for this is that testing and reporting foodborne illness improves food safety nationwide by helping public health officials detect and solve outbreaks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers cyclosporiasis a nationally notifiable disease meaning it should be reported to local health departments so appropriate actions can be taken to help prevent additional cases of illness. This reporting applies to all cases, the agency states, on its website. “Even single cases of cyclosporiasis—not just obvious clusters of similar cases (such as after a social gathering or other event)—should be reported. CDC, in collaboration with public health authorities, analyzes each reported case for epidemiologic evidence of linkage to other cases, to facilitate rapid identification and investigation of outbreaks.”
Another important reason to get tested is that even though some common symptoms are associated with all of foodborne pathogens, treatments vary. For example, food poisoning from Cyclospora, Salmonella and E. coli all cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps but the recommended treatment for each is different. Cyclosporiasis must be treated with an antibiotic that contains sulfa such as Bactrim or Septra. Antibiotics aren’t always prescribed for Salmonella infections, but if they are it’s usually a penicillin-derived antibiotic such as ampicillin or amoxicillin. And antibiotics should never be prescribed to treat E. coli infections as they can increase the risk for serious complications including hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure.
The bagged salad associated with this outbreak was produced by Fresh Express and sold under the Fresh Express brand name as well as store brand names at Hy-Vee, ALDI, Jewel-Osco, Walmart and Giant Eagle. All of the recalled salad contains iceberg lettuce, carrots and red cabbage.
If you ate bagged salad that was recalled for Cyclospora and became ill, contact a healthcare provider and mention your exposure. Be sure to ask for the stool sample test for Cyclospora which is separate from the stool sample test for other foodborne pathogens. If your test is positive, report it to your state or local health department.
This is the second time in two years that a Cyclospora outbreak has been linked to Fresh Express salad. In 2018, Fresh Express salad sold at McDonald’s was the source of a Cyclospora outbreak that sickened more than 500 people. Pritzker Hageman Cyclospora lawyers represented multiple clients in that outbreak and we are representing clients in the current outbreak. If you got sick from contaminated food, we can help. For a free consultation with our experienced legal team, please call 1-888-377-8900, send a text 612-261-0856, or complete the form below. There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless we win.