Nationwide Bacteria Outbreak Reaches Northeast Florida

Aug 9, 2013

The lifecycle of the Cyclospora parasite.
Credit Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The Florida Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora, including six cases in Northeast Florida.

Cyclospora is a food-borne, single-cell bacteria that infects the small intestine causing diarrhea, loss of appetite and fatigue. When untreated, symptoms can last for several weeks. So far no deaths have been reported in the outbreak spanning seventeen states, but 30 individuals have been hospitalized.

Epidemiologists traced cases in two of the hardest hit states, Nebraska and Iowa, back to bagged salads served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster. According to the Food and Drug Administration the farm that supplied the salads didn’t have any past violations. The FDA is currently working with the farm to ensure they can prevent a recurrence.

Efforts to discover the contaminated food responsible for the Florida outbreak or a link to the other 514 nationwide cases have been unsuccessful.

Fourty-one of the cases have been diagnosed by a method the Center for Disease Control and Prevention called telediagnosis in which doctors transmit digital images to the CDC for help identifying clinical specimens.

Twenty seven cases have been reported in Florida, four in Duval County, one in Flagler County, and one in Nassau County.

The FDA said that consumers should practice safe food handling techniques and thoroughly wash fresh produce.