A bagged salad Cyclospora outbreak has sickened more than 500 people with symptoms that can last for months if untreated. But some people who have sought medical care are being told, incorrectly, that there isn’t a test for cyclosporiasis or that they don’t need one. This might be happening because labs are swamped with COVID-19 tests. But if you have food poisoning, it’s important to know which kind and there is a way to find out.
A stool sample test that is separate from the standard screening for foodborne pathogens can determine if you have cyclosporiasis, the infection caused by the Cyclospora parasite. If the test is positive, it needs to be reported to local and state health officials. Reporting can be done by the patient or the doctor.
Testing and reporting foodborne illness improves food safety by helping public health officials detect and solve outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers cyclosporiasis a nationally notifiable disease that should be reported to local health departments so appropriate actions can be taken to help prevent additional cases of illness. “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,” the CDC states on its website.
Another important reason to get tested is that while several pathogens cause similar food poisoning symptoms, treatments differ. For example, food poisoning from E. coli, Salmonella and Cyclospora will all cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps but each has a distinct treatment. Cyclosporiasis must be treated with an antibiotic that contains sulfa such as Bactrim or Septra. Antibiotics aren’t always prescribed for salmonellosis but if they are it’s usually a penicillin-derived antibiotic such as ampicillin or amoxicillin. And antibiotics should never be prescribed for people with E. coli infections as they can increase the risk for serious complications including hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure.
If you ate bagged salad that was recalled for Cyclospora and became ill, contact a healthcare provider. Make sure to ask for the stool sample test for Cyclospora which is different than the test for other foodborne pathogens. If your test is positive, report it to your state 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.