Cyclospora Cayetanensis Facts, Symptoms [UPDATE]: Just How Severe is the Midwest Outbreak?

(Photo : REUTERS/Rick Wilking) Cylospora cayetanesis is spread through contaminated water or produce.

It's been a week since 250 people in the Midwest were sickened by a rare Cyclospora cayetanensis parasite outbreak. If you're still not sure what exactly it is, or why it's such a big deal, here are a few things you should know.

According to Food Poison Journal, Cyclospora is a parasite composed of one cell, and cannot be seen without a microscope. The first known case of illness caused by it was discovered in 1977, with an increase in the mid-1980s.

Nearly 15,000 cases of illness cased by Cyclospora infection occur each year in the U.S., with the first recorded outbreak in 1990.

The CDC noted that Cyclospora is spread usually by ingesting some kind of food or water that was contaminated by feces.

When someone is infected, they do not get symptoms for about a week. When they do, those symptoms include watery diarrhea, explosive bowel movements, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, gas, nausea, and fatigue. Other symptoms can include vomiting, body aches, headache, and fever.

If the Cyclospora isn't treated, these symptoms can persist for over a month.

Food Poison Journal noted that long-term risks of Cyclospora infection are a variety of chronic complications. These include Guillain-Barre syndrome, reactive arthritis or Reiter’s syndrome, biliary disease, and acalculous cholecystitis.

Most recently in news regarding the current outbreak, Iowa reported 60 cases as of July 12, up 45 cases than 24 hours before.

Nebraska also confirmed 22 cases of Cyclospora.

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