Cyclospora outbreak hits Grant County

State health officials announced Friday that four cases of gastrointestinal illnesses caused by a microscopic parasite called Cyclospora have been reported among Wisconsin residents. These cases are presumed to be part of a multi-state outbreak of the disease affecting approximately 200 people, mostly in Iowa, Nebraska, and Texas. The ill Wisconsin residents live in Grant, Milwaukee and Brown counties.

“Because Cyclospora can cause a prolonged illness and the disease is treatable with sulfa drugs, we want people to know that they should contact their doctor if they experience a gastrointestinal illness with watery diarrhea that lasts more than two or three days,” said Dr. Henry Anderson, state health officer. Anderson noted that because this is a relatively rare infection, doctors usually do not test for Cyclospora, which requires special testing procedures.

State officials are collaborating with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local health officials, and health departments in other affected states.

Although the source of the infection is not yet known, people generally become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis include watery diarrhea (the most common sign), abdominal cramps, nausea, extreme fatigue, bloating, and occasionally fever.

People typically become sick approximately seven days after they acquire the infection, but that incubation period can range from two to 14 days.

Cyclospora infections usually resolve on their own, but the illness can last a long time.

Patients may have relapsing symptoms that can persist for weeks to months. Only five cases of cyclosporiasis were reported among Wisconsin residents during 2008 through 2012.

Health officials will continue to monitor for additional cases and have been supporting the national investigation by interviewing patients regarding their food history and other exposures.

For more information, visit cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis.

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