Virus outbreak in Nebraska on the decline

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July 18th, 2013

Omaha, NE – It’s a practice physicians have stressed for years, but washing those fresh fruits and vegetables may be more important now, than in recent memory.

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The reason? Cyclosporiasis.

According to Douglas County Health Department Health Director, Dr. Adi Pour. That parasite has been the reason for this month’s 50 confirmed cases across Nebraska of the gastrointestinal virus Cyclospora. Currently, there are 37 cases in Douglas Country. The Iowa Department of Public Health has reported at least 70 confirmed cases of the rare food-borne illness. The last time Nebraska had a case of Cyclospora was back in 2008.

Graphical depiction of Cyclosporiasis life cycle. (Photo courtesy of CDC)

Graphical depiction of Cyclosporiasis life cycle. (Photo courtesy of CDC)

Pour said DHHS officials conducted interviews with Nebraskans who contracted the illness. Based on those interviews, vegetables appear to be the cause of the outbreak. Pour has addressed concerns over local produce, clarifying that it had no part in the string of incidents.

“This outbreak was never related to any local produce,” said Pour. “When we look at the literature of Cyclospora outbreaks, there have always been vegetables or fruit implicated that came in from other countries. It usually has never been a US product.”

Dr. Pour also explained what symptoms to watch for if you’re concerned you may have been in contact with the virus.

“This parasite produces a very watery diarrhea. These individuals have told us that they have had more than five loose stools a day, and it goes on for a very lengthy period of time,” said Pour.

Other reported symptoms have included stomach pain loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, and stomach pain. Dr. Pour said medical treatment is available for anyone who contracts the parasite. She also added the DHHS believes the outbreak has been on the decline, with only one new case being reported in the past several days.

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