Cryptosporidium Food Poisoning Outbreaks
Cryptosporidium outbreaks are often linked to drinking water and recreational water. In fact, Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of waterborne illness in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But the parasite has also caused food poisoning outbreaks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Minnesota health and agriculture departments are working to identify the food source of an ongoing Cryptosporidium outbreak that includes at least 11 people in Minnesota.
What is Cryptosporidium?
Cryptosporidium parasites are found throughout the world. Many cases are associated with travel to developing countries without good water treatment systems. The parasites and the disease they cause, cryptosporidiosis, are often both called Crypto.
The parasite has a tough, outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it resistant to chlorine disinfection.
People with Crypto can infect others if they handle food without having washed their hands properly after using the restroom. Or, if they eat foods that were irrigated or washed with contaminated water. About 748,000 Americans get Crypto each year.
Food and Beverages That Caused Cryptosporidium Outbreaks
Previous Cryptosporidium outbreaks have been linked to unpasteurized milk and apple cider, kale, and strawberries. A food source was identified in 19 of the 30 Cryptosporidium food poisoning outbreaks listed in the CDC’s national outbreak database. The number of outbreaks per food source is:
- Unpasteurized (raw) milk, 13
- Unpasteurized apple cider, 4
- Kale, 1
- Strawberries, 1