Above / Before eating, scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cantaloupe sometimes present special food safety risks because the fruit can be contaminated with food-borne Salmonella. Be sure to scrub the counter top or cutting board after you prepare fresh melons, too. 

 DUPAGE COUNTY—The DuPage County Health Department is working with local, state, and federal public health officials to investigate an increase in the number of Cyclospora illnesses in several Illinois counties. A new outbreak of cyclosporiasis linked to a private event in Skokie, Ill. was identified this week

Since mid-May, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received confirmation of 266 cases of cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic Cyclospora parasite. Of those, 110 reported eating salads produced for McDonald’s restaurants days before becoming ill. The Iowa Department of Health has noted a similar increase in cases. 

“Over 30 cases of cyclosporiasis have been reported in DuPage County since May of this year, which is more than four times the number of cases reported in 2017. Although travelers to tropical countries may be at increased risk, this infection can be acquired in the United States as well,” said Karen Ayala, health department executive director.

Communicable illnesses are reported to health departments based on the affected person’s residence, not where someone may have been affected.

How is cyclospora spread?

People can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with feces (stool) that contains the parasite. Cyclospora is spread by a person putting something in his or her mouth that is contaminated with infected stool. Cyclospora is not spread directly from one person to another.

Cyclospora infection can be treated with specific antibiotics. If not treated, the illness may last for a few days to a month or longer. If you think you might be infected with Cyclospora you should see your doctor. 

Symptoms begin about a week- to up to two-weeks after exposure, but some people who are infected may not have any.

Symptoms may include frequent bouts of watery diarrhea (the most common symptom); loss of appetite and weight; cramping, bloating, and/or increased gas; nausea (vomiting is less common); fatigue; and a low-grade fever.

Recent Cyclospora cases have been linked to fresh produce including raspberries, basil, snow peas, and lettuce. 

Wash. Prepare. Store.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following safe fruit and vegetable handling guidelines:          

·         Wash: Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and the preparation of fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked.          

·         Prepare: Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating.

·         Store: Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating.

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Submitted by Don Bolger, Public Information Office, for the DuPage County Health Department.